Arson Caused Georgia Fire That Destroyed 5 Homes, Damaged 14

Investigators ruled arson was to blame for a fire that started in a Georgia home and rapidly spread throughout a subdivision, destroying five houses and damaging at least 14 others before firefighters could extinguish all the flames.

Police arrived quickly and helped all residents of the Greystone subdivision evacuate safely on Sunday, said Paulding County fire Lt. Steve Mapes. He said one homeowner injured an ankle while escaping, but no other injuries were reported.

But the damage was extensive. The fire started after 3 a.m. Sunday inside the kitchen and dining room area of a home on Rosemont Court in Hiram, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of Atlanta. Flames jumped to neighboring houses spaced about 10 feet (3 meters) apart, all of them covered with vinyl siding that allowed the fire to spread quickly, Mapes said.

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“With the houses being so close together, it makes it difficult for us to conduct firefight operations, especially when we arrive on the scene and find very intense fire conditions,” Mapes told WSB-TV.

Investigators determined the fire was intentionally set and had a person of interest in custody, said Glenn Allen, a spokesman for Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

The person’s name was not being released because charges were still pending, Allen said.

“It breaks your heart to think somebody’s actions could impact so many other people,” said Nick Bennett, whose home was among those damaged by the flames and heat.

The local Red said about 20 people had been displaced by the subdivision fire. Hiram police were taking donated clothing and other items to give to the families.

Officials said it took 25 Paulding County firefighters equipped with five engines and two ladder trucks to extinguish the fire.

“We’ve had multiple houses that have been on fire in the past, but really nothing like this in the last 20 years that I’ve worked for the department,” Mapes told WXIA-TV.

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