Covington firefighters battle Monticello St. fire for 3 hours

COVINGTON -- Covington Fire Department firefighters battled a blaze at a Monticello Street home for more than three hours Wednesday afternoon. Assistance was called for from both the Newton County Fire Service and the Rockdale County Fire Department, according to Deputy Chief Capt. Tony Smith.

"We called them in basically for the manpower," Smith explained. "Due to the physical nature of fighting the fire, with pulling all the interior plaster, it was physically demanding on the guys. As a precaution, we asked for more personnel to come in so manpower could rotate out and we'd always have fresh folks."

The two-story, frame home at 2140 Monticello St. was fully engaged with fire before firefighters were notified.

"It was called in by a passerby who noted flames showing on the second floor," Smith said, and when firefighters got there they realized that was indeed the case. "We began an interior attack on the second floor ... it had gone into the attic and basically ran the attic and took the roof off."

Smith said the second floor is pretty much a total loss with damage from fire, smoke and water.

"The bottom floor, there is no real fire damage," he said. "We were able to salvage a good portion of the homeowner's property and hopefully that can be secured somewhere."

The homeowner was out of town at the time of the fire and no one was at home when it began.

Smith said the fire did start on the second floor, but the cause is as yet undetermined.

He said it also remained to be seen whether the home can be rebuilt or if the remaining portion will have to be destroyed and builders start over.

Smith described it as "definitely an older home," although it was renovated about five years ago. Located in the Historic District, he said he did not know if the home was on the National Register of Historic Places, but confirmed it was an "Antebellum-style" home.

Neither of the homes on either side of the burned home were damaged, nor was anyone, firefighters or civilians, hurt.

Smith said there were two challenges in fighting the fire.

"The wind was definitely a factor, feeding oxygen into the fire and making the fire more violent," he said. "Our guys took a little bit of time trying to overcome the wind ... which would cause the fire to flame back up. Also, the style of house (was a factor). It had a lot of interior build-out of plaster and wood lathe. Once the fire gets into that, it's very difficult to get behind it and extinguish it."