Friday night blaze hospitalizes two

COVINGTON - Two people were transported to the hospital Friday night after a fire broke out at an area business.

Firefighters worked for nearly four hours to contain a fire at Burgess Amusements and Special Events on Old Atlanta Highway near Cook Road in Covington.

According to Tim Smith, fire marshal for Newton County Fire Services, the building was a total loss. He said the fire consumed 75 percent of the building and the rest was lost due to water and smoke damage.

The fire also caused damage to United Cheerleading and Dance Training Center, located in the adjacent building. On Saturday, employees and members of the cheerleading training center surveyed the damage and salvaged what they could, including a collection of trophies.

Smith said Saturday that the fire broke out sometime about 7 p.m. and fire personnel with Newton County and the city of Covington worked until almost 11 p.m. to contain the blaze.

He said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it appeared as though it started near the rear of the 100-square-foot building. Inside, Smith said, were inflatables, chairs, tables, cotton candy machines and other entertainment items.

"It was a good-sized blaze," Smith said.

According to the company's Web site, Burgess Amusements, owned by Ron Dudik Jr., is a special events business that provides entertainment services for birthday parties, work retreats, church functions, trade shows and other events.

Smith said two employees of Burgess Amusements were injured in the fire. One person was transported via helicopter to the Grady Burn Unit in Atlanta and the second was taken by ambulance to Newton Medical Center.

Even though the business was located in an industrial area, Smith said the NCFS called in the Georgia Forestry Commission to make sure the wooded area behind the building was secure.

The NCFS and the local Georgia Forestry Commission Unit announced this week that a temporary outdoor burn ban in Newton County will go into effect Nov. 17 due to concerns that increasingly dry vegetation might result in more fires getting out of control. Terry Quigley, chief ranger with the Georgia Forestry Commission's Newton-Rockdale-DeKalb Unit said Newton County is operating at the "very high" fire danger level of 4, or "extreme" level of 5.

Crystal Tatum contributed to this story.

Aimee Jones can be reached at aimee.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.