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Snow, ice yield to warmer temperatures

This pine tree in Olde Town Conyers is just one of many that succumbed to the weight of ice and snow during the winter storm this week. Overall, area emergency officials indicated that the east metro region weathered the storm with fewer problems than anticipated. (Staff Photo: Alice Queen)

This pine tree in Olde Town Conyers is just one of many that succumbed to the weight of ice and snow during the winter storm this week. Overall, area emergency officials indicated that the east metro region weathered the storm with fewer problems than anticipated. (Staff Photo: Alice Queen)

COVINGTON —Residents in Rockdale and Newton counties woke up Thursday morning to several inches of snow and ice clinging to trees and bushes, but by noon, the sun had come out and most of the winter wonderland had melted away.

But with freezing rain and snow coming in the night before, public safety officials urged people to stay indoors. Fortunately, Wednesday evening passed with very few problems.

“It was fairly quiet during the night,” Newton County Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien said Thursday morning. “We probably had less than half a dozen wrecks in the last 12 hours, and few downed trees and downed power lines. Nothing major.”

O’Brien said Newton County Public Works crews, Newton County EMS and utilities crews worked quickly to respond to any issues overnight.

“It looks like we’re pretty much through the worst of it now,” he said Thursday.

Newton County Fire Service did respond around 6:15 Thursday morning to a structure fire at the Cedar Grove Mobile Home Park off Ga. Highway 11 that resulted in a total loss to the home and nearly complete loss of contents inside. O’Brien said it appears the fire started in the fireplace in the single-wide trailer. One of the two occupants was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation; otherwise no other injuries were reported, he said.

Covington firefighters extinguished a blaze Tuesday night at a home on Durden Circle that is also thought to have started in the chimney.

Rockdale County Emergency Management Agency Director Dan Morgan said county, city and state road crews worked throughout Wednesday night to treat roads and highways. He said there were very few calls, which was due in large part to citizens staying off the roads.

“Our main concern now is the wind,” Morgan said Thursday. “We’re kind of in a race. If the ice on the trees melts faster than the wind comes in, then we should be OK. But, if the wind comes in before the ice melts, it can break branches and that can cause some problems.”

In the meantime, though, temperatures were expected to rise to above freezing for several hours Thursday, which would melt much of the snow and ice. However, O’Brien and Morgan both warned that temperatures would drop into the 20s at night, causing whatever had not melted to refreeze into this morning.