Funds set up after fire destroys Macon police officer’s home

lfabian@macon.comOctober 5, 2012 

All that remains of Lt. Chris Bartlett’s uniform is a mangled mess of melted material enveloping his badge, name plate and lieutenant bars.

The polyester dark navy Macon police shirt was hanging with his duty belt in the closet of his home near Southwest High School that burned last month.

He was in Columbus visiting his fiancee Sept. 10 when a fire started in the bedroom of his Kent Drive home.

The flames shot across the attic with intense heat that melted his police scanner, computer keyboard, monitor and printer. It was hot enough to bubble the sap out of the redwood paneling in the next room, but his Bible was almost untouched.

As flames exploded a box of ammunition, neighbors said the 50 rounds sounded like fireworks. Shell casings flew off, but didn’t go too far.

“We still haven’t found my gun. It’s still missing,” said Bartlett, who thinks the plastic handle of his personal handgun melted into oblivion in the bedroom.

There’s hardly a trace of the hardwood floors the family refinished themselves.

Bartlett spent two weeks burning vacation time as he sifted through ashes, salvaged what he could and made a list for the insurance company of everything he owned.

Bartlett’s brother said the policy won’t cover the extent of his losses, including his grandparents’ antiques and jewelry.

“The worst part is that he had his insurance for a while and did not update it,” said Jay Bartlett, a retired Macon police sergeant.

Rebuilding the house would cost $103,000, but he will only receive a little more than $70,000 from the insurance company, Chris Bartlett said.

After he pays off $30,000 on the mortgage, that leaves $40,000 to pay for demolition and a new start.

Benefit funds have been established through the Macon Police Credit Union and Macon Bibb Law Enforcement Foundation.

Bartlett’s family pictures and his prized wrestling memorabilia collection can’t be replaced.

In the remains of the one-story brick house, items that were once stored in the attic litter the floors.

Remnants of the Bartlett children’s old toys and clothing are flattened in the hallway. Wilted artificial garland oozed from open rafters of what used to be the dining room ceiling. Once-shiny Christmas ornaments, now dulled by a layer of soot, had spilled down below. His daughters’ porcelain dolls are covered in black.

“They say you won’t ever get the smell out,” he said.

His older girls, ages 22 and 19, were no longer living there, but his 15-year-old daughter stayed with him on weekends until the fire.

Their father is bunking at “Uncle Jay’s” house for the time being.

“It’s a good thing he’s got a comfortable couch,” Bartlett said.

“I believe he’ll be here awhile,” his brother said.

Donations are being accepted through the Macon Police Credit Union at the detective bureau, which is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and from noon until 1 p.m. on First Street.

The Macon Bibb Law Enforcement Foundation also is collecting money to help Bartlett rebuild.

Checks made out to the foundation must be designated for the Chris Bartlett fund and be mailed to P.O. Box 6098, Macon, GA 31208.

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