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Cause of death released in west Forsyth house fire

WEST FORSYTH — In the culmination of an unusually high-profile week for Forsyth County fire personnel and law enforcement, the Fire Marshal’s Office on Friday announced that the 57-year-old man whose body was found in a burning home Monday died of smoke inhalation.

According to fire officials, the cause of Richard Hunt’s death was determined by an autopsy performed earlier in the week by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at its crime lab.

Hunt was the sole victim of a fire Monday morning that destroyed his home at 7797 Holyoke Road in west Forsyth near the Cherokee County line. It was the first fire involving a fatality in the county in 14 months.

The blaze remains under investigation by the fire department and private investigators hired by Hunt’s insurance company. However, Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers said the blaze is currently considered accidental with an undetermined cause and origin.

Reports of smoke started coming in about 9:38 a.m. Monday and drew more than 23 fire personnel to the scene.

Subsequent calls noted flames had begun to rise from the single-story residence.

Officials have said Hunt was dead by the time firefighters pulled him from the home, which was within a few minutes of arriving.

The tragedy was the second to strike the Hunt family in the past seven months. Family members told authorities that 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.

Monday’s blaze 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.