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Cause of fire at abandoned house 'suspicious'

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

CONYERS -- Rockdale County firefighters responded to a house fire Monday night at Lakeview Estates. No injuries were reported.

Deputy Chief Mike Lee said Tuesday that firefighters responded to Frontier Drive about 5:30 p.m. to a fully involved fire of an abandoned ranch-style house over a basement.

"It pretty much burned to the ground," Lee said.

Fire engines, a ladder, squad and a battalion were on the scene. However, the home's location and icy conditions made it difficult for firefighters to reach the fire location. Lee said the house was in the woods near a playground in the neighborhood. The driveway was not paved, so the dirt path was covered with ice.

Firefighters had to use a four-wheel drive brush truck, Lee said, describing it as a big pickup truck outfitted with a pump and water hoses.

The ice slowed things down, according to Lee, and firefighters were out on the scene for several hours.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but is under investigation.

"It's suspicious," Lee said of the cause of the fire. "It was an old structure that had been there for years and years and when they finally made entry to the area, there were lots of footprints and (tire) tracks."

Both the Newton County Fire Service and the Covington Fire Department reported no fire calls Tuesday, although they had been busy assisting with EMS calls. Both departments reported they have full shifts of personnel showing up, despite the hardship of getting to the station.

"It's mainly medical calls at home and places of business. There have been some falls, but not that many," said Newton Fire Chief Mike Satterfield, adding that because travel even for the Fire Department is extremely slow, it tends to cause the calls for service to back up.

Satterfield also warned of fire dangers in light of predictions for frigid temperatures for later in the week.

"When these kind of temperatures come in, one of the major causes of residential home fires is portable heating devices," he said. "Don't overwork them. Sometimes they don't have the ability to cut themselves off and if they get overheated, and you're asleep, you won't know it. Keep them at least 3 feet from combustibles such as draperies, upholstered chairs or waste baskets."

Newton Citizen News Editor Barbara Knowles contributed to this report.