Updated 10:45 a.m.
A family escaped unharmed from a blaze that destroyed their home overnight on the 800 block of Tom Smith Road.
Firefighters responded to a call just before midnight, and the blaze was so intense by the time they arrived that it could be battled only from the outside, Captain Tommy Rutledge of Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services said.
Owner Donna Bryson said she had been asleep when the smell of smoke awoke her about 11:45 p.m. Sunday. Seeing smoke coming from around the fireplace, she quickly aroused her husband and son, and they left the house immediately.
"Within five or 10 minutes, the whole roof opened up and the whole house was just an inferno," Bryson said.
The house, was only finished in August.
Bryson sat in the parking lot across the road to watch as firefighters continued to put out hot spots and to tear down the unstable walls, saying she was just grateful no one was injured.
"We're going to build back," she said. "This you can replace, but you can't replace your family."
The cause isn't yet known, but Bryson said the fire department thinks it started in the basement.
There were "heavy flames" in the basement area of the 7,800 square feet home by the time the firefighters arrived, Rutledge said in an emailed release. "The fire extended to the attic and broke through the roof before being brought under control," Rutledge said.
The family of three wasn't able to take anything from the house, not even car keys nor Bryson's wedding ring. They're not in need of donations, she said. A neighbor has loaned her a truck, and they have a lot of family in the area.
"We're so well taken care of," Bryson said, noting the "great people of Lilburn."