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A neighbor, off duty Elbert County Sheriff's Sergeant Joel Heap, saw the flames and ran to help.



"I was completely asleep. I just remember waking up to bangs, loud bangs and then a really large bang, which at that point I realized was my front door being kicked down," McKnight said. "It was actually my neighbor. He was saying 'you've got to get out! There is a fire!' So, I grabbed my daughter and I ran out of the house."



After Sergeant Heap got the family out of the home, he ran back in to rescue the family's two dogs. He was able to pick up one dog but was forced to leave because of thick smoke. The second dog made it out of the burning home on its own.



"You know I can't say enough about what he did to risk his life and go in there and get them. They didn't know what was going on," neighbor Matthew Hendrian said. "That's just sheer bravery."



Hendrian says when he was awakened the front of the McKnight home was being engulfed by the flames.



"It is hard to understand unless you've been through it. It is just the scariest thing you've ever seen," Hendrian said. "The fire was screaming. It was making its own noise and it was really hot."



Firefighters with the Cunningham Fire District responded to the blaze and were able to get it under control in 20 minutes. They believe the fire started in the garage. The damage to the structure is estimated at $175,000.



While the McKnight's lost much to the fire they saw the best come out in their neighbors. There were many offers of temporary shelter for the family and their pets.

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