FLAGLER BEACH, Fla. – The man whose wife and two of his children remain in hospitals after their home burned to the ground early Friday morning returned to the property in the afternoon to sort through the rubble.
James Ghormley and a third child were also hospitalized after the fire that destroyed their Flagler Beach home on Ocean Palm Drive and damaged a neighbor's house just after 2 a.m.
His wife, Jessica Johnson, and their 11-month-old son, Landon Ghormley, were airlifted to the burn center at Orlando Regional Medical Center. The father and two daughters, 2 and 5 years old, were taken to Florida Hospital Flagler. James Ghomely and one of the girls were treated and released. The other girl was transferred to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando and is in stable condition.
James Ghomely said his wife may have third-degree burns, while their son has buns on his legs and belly.
While walking through the remains of their home in bare feet, he just said he was thankful they're all alive.
"I just woke up. Somebody said the house was on fire, I seen flames coming up from underneath the house. I just went and grabbed, yelled that the house was on fire, 'Get out of the house!'" Ghomely said. "One more minute and we wouldn't have been here. That's how fast this thing went up."
"The house was a stilt house and it went up like a matchstick," said Flagler County Chief Don Petito. "Flames entered the second house through the attic. They were both going by the time we got there."
Flagler County requested assistance from the Palm Coast and Volusia County fire departments to battle the fire.
The Ghormley home was destroyed and the neighboring home badly damaged, but the man in the second home made it out safely.
After looking for anything of value that may have survived the fire, Ghormley planned to go back to the hospitals in Orlando to be with his family.
Bobby Recker, who lives in a condominium a few blocks away, watched as the flames grew and quickly spread to the next home.
"The question is, why? What caused it?" Recker asked.
That's the question the State Fire Marshal was called in to answer.
Neighbors said clutter on the property might be a clue.
"Too much rubble and junk," neighbor Frances Keating said. "Yeah. It's different than any other house in this neighborhood. Let's just say that."