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Body found inside burning west Forsyth home ID'd

WEST FORSYTH — The person whose body was found inside a burning home Monday morning in west Forsyth has been identified as a 57-year-old man, Forsyth County fire officials said.

Investigators have not determined a cause of death, so it remains unclear if Richard Hunt died before the fire or as a result of it.

“All indications are that [he] was here alone,” said Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers.

While investigators “feel confident that the fire was accidental in nature,” neither the cause of the blaze nor its origin have been determined.

The tragedy was the second to strike the Hunt family in the past seven months. According to Shivers, family members living nearby said Hunt lost his son, 27-year-old Alexander Robert Hunt, in a single-vehicle wreck June 16.

The crash occurred on Bentley Road, not far from the elder Hunt’s home at 7797 Holyoke Road near the Cherokee County line.

Monday’s blaze was Forsyth’s first fire involving a fatality in 14 months. More than 23 fire personnel and an ambulance responded about 9:38 a.m. after “several calls” from neighbors and passers-by who apparently saw smoke coming from the home, according to Shivers.

Subsequent callers noted that flames had begun to rise from the single-story residence. Firefighters arrived to find “heavy smoke and fire” coming from “several windows and doors.”

Shivers said Hunt was dead by the time firefighters got inside the home, which was within a few minutes.

“There was no indication the home had any form of working smoke detectors,” he said. “If the [smoke alarm] system is working, we can hear it when we pull on scene.”

According to Shivers, firefighters did find an “antiquated hardwired alarm system,” but that it was not thought to be in service.

“With this tragedy comes the lesson that homes should always be equipped with working smoke alarms that are checked regularly,” he said.

It was the first fire involving a fatality in Forsyth County since 2013, when there were two.

On Oct. 7 of that year, a blaze at the Willows apartment complex on Nancy Lane in Cumming claimed the life of a 78-year-old man.

On March 31, 2013 — which was Easter — a 40-year-old woman died after a fire on Shady Grove Road.

According to Forsyth County News archives, 2012 and 2011 each had one fatal fire, taking the lives of one and three people, respectively.

“We’re fortunate that fatal fires are fairly rare,” Shivers said.


Online Editor Jim Dean contributed to this report.