Cause of West Lake fire undetermined

Homeowner saw flames under tanning bed
Wednesday night fire in West Lake

Columbia County fire investigators said Thursday they have yet to determine the cause of a fire that heavily damaged a doctor’s residence in the 400 block of Congressional Court on Wednesday night.

The West Lake subdivision home of Dr. Henry W. Ferguson, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Georgia Regents Medical Center, was damaged in the blaze, which broke out about 8 p.m.

Ferguson’s wife told firefighters she was using an upstairs tanning bed when its power went out, according to Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue spokesman Jeremy Wallen. She went to investigate the breaker and returned to find flames shooting from beneath the tanning bed.

Wallen said it is uncertain whether the tanning bed was the cause of the blaze. An investigator determined that the fire was accidental and that no foul play is suspected.

Ferguson’s wife and a passer-by called 911, and when firefighters arrived, the second floor was engulfed in flames, Wallen said.

There was heavy fire and water damage to the top floor of the residence, which, according to county tax records, is worth more than $400,000. A neighboring home sustained minor damage from heat and debris, firefighters said.

In some cases, victims of fires and other disasters can request assistance from the American Red Cross.

Red Cross of Augusta Executive Director Jennifer Pennington said the organization’s Disaster Services team identifies hotels that keep rooms open for emergencies during Masters Week. If a large disaster or multiple disasters leave people homeless, she said the Red Cross will open a shelter to house them.

House burns in West Lake

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