By Miles Montgomery
ATLANTA, Georgia (WGCL) — Authorities in Morrow are offering a reward of up to $10,000 to anyone with information into a fire that destroyed three historic homes in city-owned community space “The District” Saturday.
Officials tell CBS46 News the fire began around midnight and investigators believe the fire started in one home and quickly spread to two others nearby. Investigators believe a group of individuals was in the home before the fire started as early as 8:45 p.m. on Friday.
Crews from the Clayton County Fire Department were also called in to assist in battling the blaze for several hours, but they were unable to save the three buildings.
Morrow Fire Chief Roger Swint has requested the assistance of the State Fire Marshal’s Investigation Unit, including the use of accelerant detection canine teams, to determine the fire origin and cause. “The location and intensity of the fire are suspicious, and early indications suggest this fire is likely the result of arson or fire setting by a person or persons,” Chief Swint said. “The City of Morrow’s Fire Marshal will head the probe alongside state officials.”
The Morrow Police Department is also assisting in the criminal investigation; detectives say they have early leads suggesting more than one person of interest.
“Unfortunately, The District has been a frequent target of vandals, even as new tenants have begun moving into the site,” said Morrow Interim Police Chief David Snively. “Our detectives have successfully identified several previous offenders, including an attempted arsonist; and we will work tirelessly with fire investigators to determine the exact events surrounding this incident as well.” Chief Snively said.
“Two of the buildings in The District were under contract, and architectural plans are being reviewed for two others even as new requests for commercial space are being processed by the City,” said Morrow City Manager Jeff Baker. “This is a devastating setback just as we’ve begun to turn the corner and fill the long-vacant spaces at The District; and it is an especially tragic loss of history, including the Napier-Small house, a distinguished example of Greek-Revival architecture built in 1846 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”
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