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Gas leak caused Burgess blaze

COVINGTON - A leaking propane tank caused a Friday night fire that destroyed the building that housed Burgess Amusements and Special Events located on Old Atlanta Highway, according to the Newton County fire marshal.

The blaze started in the left rear of the building when two employees were disconnecting a propane tank from a funnel cake cooker, said Fire Marshal Tim Smith.

"Right now we're still trying to determine if the valve on the tank failed or if it just wasn't secure in the off position, but it started leaking gas. When it found an ignition source inside the building, it started a flash fire that spread to the storage rack to the left of the tank," Smith said.

The owner of the business, who was working in the front, was unable to extinguish the blaze with a fire extinguisher, Smith said, and helped evacuate the employees, both of whom sustained burn injuries.

One was airlifted to the Grady Burn Unit in Atlanta, while the other was transported by ambulance to Newton Medical Center and released that night.

Smith said the building was a total loss. Fire consumed 75 percent of the building and the rest was lost due to water and smoke damage, he said.

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 around 7 p.m. and fire personnel with Newton County and the city of Covington worked until almost 11 p.m. to contain the blaze.

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.

News Editor Aimee Jones contributed to this story.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.