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Fire destroys two-story home

Special photo . Newton County Fire Service investigators sift through the rubble of what was 24 hours earlier a family home in western Newton County. The home and contents are a total loss.

Special photo . Newton County Fire Service investigators sift through the rubble of what was 24 hours earlier a family home in western Newton County. The home and contents are a total loss.

COVINGTON -- Newton County Fire Service investigators are trying to determine the cause of a blaze that gutted a home in western Newton County Tuesday night.

According to NCFS Deputy Chief Kevin O'Brien, firefighters were summoned to 125 River North Court off Upper River Road around 11:15 p.m. The residence was a two-story, single-family dwelling that had four people living there.

"Heavy smoke and flames through the roof were visible when they arrived," O'Brien said.

Two of the residents were at home and in bed at the time of the blaze and had already fled the residence by the time firefighters arrived. Two other occupants were not at home.

O'Brien called it "concerning" that the fire was so far advanced by the time firefighters arrived, given that their response time was around three minutes due to the proximity of Fire Station No. 7 on Brown Bridge Road.

"To be that far gone, that quick ... it seems a little bit more ahead of us than it should have been with us having as good of a response time in that area," he said, adding that it was hard to judge what sort of flammable material contributed to the fire burning "hotter and faster" than expected.

He also said the windy conditions that prevailed Tuesday night may have been a contributing factor to the rapid burn.

The house next door sustained damage to the vinyl siding.

"It's hard right now to see exactly where it started," he said Wednesday morning, adding that investigators were on the scene looking for answers.

O'Brien estimated the value of the house to be about $90,000, and with the total loss of both structure and contents to be about $110,000.

He said those residing at the home were renters and were able to stay with family Tuesday night. The American Red Cross is offering assistance.