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Fire destroys elderly Nokomis man’s home

Flames had already engulfed the home when firemen arrived.

News Staff Writer

A fire that broke out late Saturday night (April 27) raged through the home of an elderly Nokomis man, taking the house and all but a handful of the homeowner’s belongings with it.
Local businessman Jerry Gehman, a captain with Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department (NVFD), reported that he received first notice of the blaze at 11:03 p.m. By the time he arrived nine minutes later, the flames were already consuming the brick dwelling.
Despite the combined effort of NVFD and four other area fire departments, 88-year-old Guy Milstid’s home was a total loss. Milstid was not present when the blaze destroyed his home.
“The house was engulfed on one end when I got to the scene,” Gehman said. “I tried everything I could; I just couldn’t stop it. The homeowner was not at home, so at least there were no injuries.”
Gehman said he fought the fire alone for a brief span before paid firefighters from Atmore and Poarch Creek Indians fire departments and volunteers from Perdido and Rabun rushed to the scene under mutual aid agreements. The last unit cleared the scene at 4:12 a.m.
“There were no hydrants,” he said of the area near the junction of Johnson and Coleman roads, where Milstid’s home stood. “I had 3,000 gallons in my truck, and I had used most of that when Atmore arrived and started feeding us water. Between all the units that responded, we used about 20,000 gallons to fight that fire.”
He added that, despite the unsuccessful outcome of the fire, his heart was warmed to see all the help arrive.
“There’s nothing better than seeing all those red lights,” he said. “To know that, at 2 or 3 in the morning, that people are willing to come out and help is a wonderful feeling to have.”
Milstid reportedly had no insurance on his home and told emergency responders he would stay in a motor home he has behind the pile of blackened rubble that used to be his residence.
Sandra Gray of the American Red Cross’s Atmore office said she was going to meet with the Nokomis man Tuesday (April 30) to help arrange temporary housing.
“We didn’t know where he was,” Gray said. “His home healthcare worker heard about the fire and took him to her home for a night or two to make sure he was all right.”
Milstid has been a member for several decades of Billy Glenn Rushing American Legion Post 90 in Atmore and was post commander at one time. Post officials could not be reached by Tuesday’s press deadline for information on any fundraising activity the veterans organization might conduct on Milstid’s behalf.
Gray said she is working through Concerned Citizens of Atmore to start soliciting donations to help the 88-year-old fire victim.
“He has nothing,” she said. “The Red Cross can only provide immediate assistance; it can’t replace anything. Concerned Citizens is always helping out people in these situations, so we want to try and help him.”