Fire officials investigate auto arson

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- The Covington Fire Department is seeking the identity of the person or persons who set fire to a vehicle in a wooded area near Capes Drive in the early morning hours Saturday.

Covington Fire Department Capt. Tony Smith is investigating the fire that he says was without a doubt deliberately set.

"The call initially came out as a woods fire at the end of Capes Drive. We did have a witness who saw the fire and went down to investigate it as he was talking to 911," Smith said. "He then realized it was actually a vehicle in the woods that was on fire."

Smith said it was located about 100 yards off the pavement at the end of Capes Drive in a wooded area where there is an AT&T service line.

Smith said after firefighters extinguished the blaze, law enforcement ran the tag number through the computer, but nothing unusual came back on it.

"At that point, it hadn't been reported stolen. Later on that morning we found out a report had been filed, but not entered yet," Smith said, adding that it was then discovered the 2007 Saturn Aura was reported stolen out of Gwinnett County.

"It was fully involved when our guys got there so it was a total loss," he said.

Smith said there were some witnesses to the incident who had passed on valuable information to investigators.

"They've given us some good information that we're following up on," he said. "The investigation is ongoing, but we feel pretty confident about it."

Smith said it is common practice for car thieves to set stolen cars on fire, hoping to destroy all evidence.

"There will be no fingerprints left. There's no physical evidence left if the car is burned totally," he said. "That's one of the major reasons for arson -- to cover up or conceal another crime."

Smith said there is a $10,000 reward offered through the Georgia Arson Control Board for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist.

If anyone has any information concerning this incident, they are asked to call the CFD at 770-385-2100. Callers can choose to remain anonymous.