Fire destroyed the expansive lakeside home of community leaders Philip and Mary Hart Wilheit.
The 10,000-square-foot home on Shoreline Drive was valued at $2 million, according to Hall County Fire Services.
Fire officials reported the Monday blaze started in the fireplace, but they don’t yet know why.
Heavy smoke was showing from the attic and everyone was safely out of the home when firefighters responded to the 7:40 p.m. call, Capt. Zachary Brackett said.
“Due to the heavy fire conditions, all operations on this incident have moved to a defensive posture,” Brackett wrote in an email at 9:15 p.m. Monday.
Tanker trucks shuttled water to the site from a fire hydrant more than half a mile away; water was then pumped through a large hose to a fire truck actually putting water on the blaze, Brackett said. Lumpkin County also sent a tanker to help.
Philip Wilheit is a member of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and previously served as statewide campaign chairman for Gov. Nathan Deal’s first gubernatorial race in 2010. He is the president and CEO of Wilheit Packaging. His wife Mary Hart, who served as executive director of Gainesville/Hall ’96 leading up to the 1996 Olympics.