COVINGTON - An elderly man received burns over 70 percent of his body after his house erupted in flames just after 7 p.m. Tuesday night, according to the Newton County Fire Service.
The 72-year-old man has disabilities that may have hampered his escape from the fire.
"He was in a wheelchair but could still walk short distances," NCFS Deputy Chief Tim Smith said. "We found him unconscious inside the house."
The victim was transported by ambulance to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta where he remains in critical condition, Smith said.
Smith said the man lived at the house located at 15858 Ga. Highway 36 with his wife, who had left the residence to go pick up supper when the fire started.
Smith described the damage to the house as "moderate," saying it was a 1,300-square-foot, single-story, frame dwelling.
The living room and kitchen area were burned, and there was smoke damage to two bedrooms, Smith said, adding that estimates were that $80,000 to $85,000 worth of damage was done to the structure with approximately $25,000 in damage to the contents.
Smith said units arrived at the home within three minutes of the call and the fire was brought under control within five to seven minutes.
"That's when we made a sweep and found the victim unconscious inside the house," Smith said.
Smith said the fire is believed to be accidental, but investigators are still seeking the cause and are not releasing information as to where or how it started.
Barbara Knowles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.