Staff Photo: Alice Queen. No one was home when fire broke out at this Crowell Road residence about 1 p.m. Monday. Newton County Fire Chief Mike Satterfield said the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but it appears the fire started in the attic.
COVINGTON -- Newton County Fire Service personnel were at work Tuesday trying to determine the cause of a house fire on Crowell Road that left $350,000 to $400,000 in damage.
Newton firefighters, with mutual aid from the Covington Fire Department, worked for more than four and a half hours Monday to extinguish the blaze that broke out sometime after noon.
According to Fire Chief Mike Satterfield, the fire call came in around 1 p.m. Monday, apparently called in by a passer-by. No one was at home at the time the fire broke out; however, Satterfield said the homeowners arrived shortly afterward. No one was injured in the blaze.
"The cause of the fire is still under investigation," Satterfield said, "but we feel that it started in the attic of the home."
Firefighters arrived at the scene to find heavy fire had already burned from the attic down into the living area of the home.
Satterfield said firefighters had to battle what he called a "stubborn" fire, plus temperatures in the mid-90s.
The fact that the fire was in the attic contributed to the difficulty in putting out the blaze, Satterfield said.
"It was in some confined areas of the home in the attic area," he said, "and when it's in those areas it's pretty difficult to put out."
In addition, a partial roof collapse vented the fire, adding to the difficulty factor, he said.
Satterfield said firefighters, assisted by EMS personnel, were able to do a good job of staying hydrated and avoiding heat exhaustion. Being spelled by firefighters from Covington Fire also helped in that effort, he said. Newton Fire Service had 14 firefighters on the scene, along with four other certified personnel who responded to assist. Satterfield said Newton Fire had two other crews held in reserve to cover the rest of the county should the need arise. Those crews were also rotated in to relieve other firefighters.
"We just needed some assistance with manpower because we had pretty much exhausted everyone we had," Satterfield said.
Covington Fire Marshal David Carter said the Covington department dispatched five firefighters and a ladder truck to the fire scene. In addition, he said the department shared its Cool Shirts personal cooling system, which helped in rehabbing the firefighters and aided them in avoiding heat exhaustion. Carter said firefighters put on the Cool Shirts, which circulate cool water through the shirts, during breaks. In addition, he said Covington Fire contributed a Typhoon water fan to the effort, which distributes water in a spray pattern and helps keep firefighters cool.