WOODBINE, Ga. – A woman and child died in a house fire early Thursday morning, according to Camden County Fire Rescue.
When firefighters arrived on Ben Butler Lane, just south of Woodbine, at 6:10 a.m., two adjoining homes were fully engulfed in flames. The Kingsland and St. Marys fire departments also responded to the fire and assisted Camden County in fighting the fire.
Authorities said Myra Bonita Butler, 52, and Anthony Green, 6, died in the fire. Butler, who lives in Valdosta, is Anthony's aunt. Marcia Butler, Anthony's grandmother, was in the home at the time and survived the fire.
Both structures were a total loss. The Red Cross was notified to help the family.
Gary Hutchinson can't believe what's left of his childhood friends' homes after the deadly fire.
"Just ruins right now. Just ruins," Hutchinson said.
The fire is so destructive that only a partial wall still stands. Everything else is so badly burned, it's difficult to tell what once stood.
"How did you get the strength to come out here?" News4Jax's Elizabeth Campbell asked.
"Well, it stayed on my mind," Hutchinson said. "I couldn't sleep last night. Thoughts were on my mind. I just had to come. Just had to come. It's like paying some respect."
Hutchinson has known the Butlers since he was a child and couldn't help but having flashbacks Thursday after learning the news.
"It was just heartbreaking. I couldn't run my errands during the day," Hutchinson said. "I did what I could and went home and just thought -- it was all past thinking just how family grew up, everybody went to school together, played together. Just kind of watched out for each other."
The Sheriff's Office said the family had been without power since Sunday because of Hurricane Irma. The Georgia State Fire Marshal's Office told News4Jax the cause of the fire and where it started is under investigation, but it's looking into the possibility the fire started from an unattended candle.
Hutchinson said this community is ready to rally behind the Butler family.
"I think everybody in the county is going to pitch in and do what they can and help out," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson hasn't yet been able to speak to Marcia Butler, the woman who escaped, but said when she's ready, he's there for her.
The Camden County Fire Department was the initial responding agency, but had assistance from the Kingsland and St. Marys fire departments.
Neighbors told News4Jax one fire truck got stuck in a ditch, not being able to get to the home. The Sheriff's Office said it was secondary response and that the original units were able to make it to the home.