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Woman loses nearly everything in north Forsyth fire
A fire Saturday afternoon destroyed this home on Coltrane Drive, displacing a 71-year-old woman and her daughter. - photo by Michele Hester

NORTH FORSYTH — A 71-year-old north Forsyth woman lost nearly everything she owned Saturday afternoon when her home near the Dawson County line caught fire while she was frying apple pies for a friend, her family said.

“She’s always making pies and baking for people,” said Tammy Sosebee, niece of Ellarea Johnson, whose home on Coltrane Drive was destroyed.

“She had been cooking and someone came to the door and she was talking to them” when they then noticed smoke billowing from inside.

Billy Thurmond, director of Dawson County Emergency Services, said the home was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters from Dawson and Forsyth counties arrived.

While the property is actually in Forsyth, Dawson responded to the fire through a mutual aid agreement.

According to Sosebee, her aunt was able to grab the keys to her truck but nothing else.

“They’re thinking it was an electrical problem,” she said. “She’s been wanting to get someone out to check it out.”

Johnson, who works at Walmart in Dawsonville, and her daughter lived at the home. They are now staying with relatives, Sosebee said.

“She’s just the sweetest lady you’ve ever met. She’s helped my family so many times,” Sosebee said. “She had lived there more than 33 years. She has no insurance.”

Immediately, upon learning of the fire, Sosebee took to social media to help her aunt. An account has been set up at

“Her brother said he can build her a two-bedroom house for $30,000, and that he’ll donate the labor,” Sosebee said.