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Donations stolen from fire victims demolished north Forsyth home
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Because of the distance from the road, firefighters used tankers to ferry water to the fire location. - photo by Jim Dean

A north Forsyth family found their home had been looted and donations stolen days after a fire destroyed their home and everything inside.

Firefighters responded to the residence of Robert and Stephanie Johnson on Friday, Nov. 18 after receiving a call about a brush fire with “30-foot-high flames.”

When officials arrived at the scene, they found the Johnson’s log home, located on Wallace Tatum Road off Matt Highway (Hwy. 369), and nearby woods completely engulfed.

Though no one was hurt in the blaze, the family of seven – the couple and their five children aged 21, 17, 14, 3 and 17 months – lost a pet dog.

The fire also razed their house, leaving a pile of charred logs where the home once stood on their 13-acre property.

Despite there being little to salvage, the Johnson’s said items from the home, as well as donations, were stolen.

“I couldn’t go back for maybe four days [after] the fire; it’s been really tough for us,” Robert Johnson said. “But I’ve had people feeding my animals [who] let me know how things were, and they said things were [taken.] I had a safe that firefighters had pried open and even though it was fire-proof, everything inside was burnt, but people still rummaged through it.”

Johnson said bags of toys that had been left for his children and clothing left for his wife are also missing.

He added the thefts were especially upsetting because the house was located five or six acres back from the main road, meaning people had to make a conscious effort to reach the home.

“You have to pass the horse pasture, the barn, and back around the back corner is the house,” he said. “I don’t know if it was people that knew me, that had seen the fire when it was going on … I don’t know how the [thefts] happened. But the sheriff’s office has been very helpful and they do routine drive-bys, checking on the house periodically.”

Johnson said a retired veterinarian also donated a security camera system, which they put up to ensure donations will now be safe.

“Honestly though, it’s been amazing how much Forsyth County has surrounded around us and helped us out,” Johnson said. “I’m amazed with the community … When [Stephanie] posted that we had items stolen, people in the community were getting ready to put together a schedule to watch over the house.”

More on the Johnsons and how to help them can be found at gofundme.com/johnson-home-wallace-tatum-rd.