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Body found near burned home
Blaze chars 5 to 8 acres in west Forsyth
WEB fatal brush fire 3 jd
Crime scene tape surrounds the area inside the brush fire where a body was found Saturday afternoon. - photo by Jim Dean (previous profile)


* House fire injures one.

Authorities are investigating a death and a fire Saturday that destroyed one home and threatened eight others in west Forsyth.

The Forsyth County Fire Department responded about 1:45 p.m. to Johnson Road off Kelly Mill Road.

Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said firefighters found the body of a 64-year-old man in the woods behind the house destroyed by flames.

He said the man, identified as Joe Michael Fowler, was lying face down.

“We just don’t know whether the fatality occurred before, during or after the fire,” Shivers said.

The body was sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab in Atlanta to determine the cause of death.

Authorities said Fowler rented the house that burned. He has a brother in Wyoming, who has been notified, but no family in the area.

Shivers said the fire, which does not appear to be suspicious, charred 5 to 8 acres of woods.

The blaze appeared to have crossed a gravel road to another wooded area before it was stopped.

Firefighters have not determined what caused the fire. However, Shivers said Fowler was burning brush before the blaze got out of hand.

The sheriff’s office and Georgia Forestry Commission also responded to the incident.

No other injuries were reported in connection with the blaze, which was the second significant fire in two days in Forsyth County.

A south Forsyth woman remains in critical condition after she suffered serious injuries Friday in what authorities have said was a suspicious fire at her Chattahoochee River Club home.

Investigators suspect the fire at 3625 Woodbury Creek Drive started in the garage, though they are working to determine the exact cause.

The homeowner, Jill Vannini, was pulled from the blaze about 11 a.m. and taken to Northside Hospital-Forsyth.

Shivers has said Vannini did not appear to have been burned, but may have suffered from smoke inhalation.

Vannini was the only person in the three-story house, which was 20 to 25 percent burned, at the time.