Fire kills family in Dodge County

The Dodge County Sheriff's Office has released the names of a family killed in today's early morning fire.

Allen and Beverly Hulett, ages 40 and 38, and their 9-year-old son, Colby, died in the fire at their home at 1071 Walker Road. in Rhine, Sheriff Lawton Douglas said.

The fire occurred at about 2:15 a.m. at the wood frame home and took a few hours to extinguish, Douglas said.

"It appears as though the fire started in the kitchen or laundry room area," said Glenn Allen, spokesman for Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine.

Allen said it will be difficult to determine exactly where the fire started, given that the rooms are close together and the house had an open floor plan. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Investigators will return to the scene Thursday afternoon.

"We have not been able to find remnants of a smoke detector," Allen said. "At this time, it does not appear as thought the family had a smoke alarm."

Allen said that anyone who can not afford a smoke alarm should call Oxendine's office at (800) 656-2298. He said Oxendine's office will make arrangements with local fire departments to provide a smoke alarm.

Douglas went to school with Allen and Beverly Hulett at Dodge County High School.

"They were loved by the community and their family. They were hard working, great father and mother. They will be greatly missed," he said.

Family members stood outside the home this afternoon in the drizzling rain while a safe company tried to open a charred gun safe located in one of the most damaged areas of the home.

Rocky Hillard, Allen Hulett's uncle, said he received a phone call just after 2:30 a.m. from a neighbor about the burning house.

"We just jumped up and came over," Hillard said. "We could see the fire from three miles away. The sky was lit up."

When Hillard arrived, he said the house was engulfed in flames. It was later that firefighters found Allen Hewlett in the living room, Hewlett's wife, Beverly, and 9-year-old son Colby in a bedroom.

Hillard said the Allens operated ABC Logging of Rhine, and that they enjoyed fishing and hunting. Hillard said firefighters found some family snapshots, the couple's wedding pictures and a white album. Also found was a wooden shotgun Allen had given his son Colby for Christmas.

Colby was a fourth-grader at South Dodge Elementary School, Principal Elvis Davis said.

"He was very well-mannered and a likable student. It really affected us," Davis said.

A neighbor of the Hulett family called school officials early Wednesday with news of the fire and teachers circulated the bad news before school started.

"We were probably notified at about 6 this morning," Davis said. "Colby's teachers are having a hard time."

The Hulett's were well-known around the community and Colby, although quiet, was well thought of by his classmates. Counselors were called to the school this morning to consul teachers and students, Davis said. "We're thankful for community support and ask for prayer for the family," he said.

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