By Ed Brock
The smoke from the fire that destroyed an upscale home near Morrow was visible for miles and drew spectators like Donna Williams.
Williams said she lives with her mother not far from Carriage Drive where the unoccupied house went up in flames around 4 p.m. Thursday.
"The fire trucks were passing in front of our home," Williams said.
Clayton County firefighters were still working on extinguishing the blaze by 5:30 p.m. as the fire burned through the roof of the home that had two upstairs levels and a basement. The blaze, which was already strong when firefighters arrived and was resisting efforts to put it out, was "very suspicious at this point," Deputy Chief Jeff Hood said.
Williams and other neighbors said the house had been empty for about two months and Williams said it had been taken from the previous owner in a foreclosure. Another family had purchased it and was doing some renovation on the house.
Andra Guerra and her family live next door to the house and said she hadn't seen the new owners for a couple of months. The yard of the house was overgrown and several newspapers were still in the driveway.
Guerra said her family had seen somebody in the house one or two weeks ago but hadn't seen anybody in there on Thursday.
"All I saw this evening was the smoke and I called 911," Guerra said.
At that point she couldn't see flames, either. The house was a five-bedroom home that was probably worth between $300,000 and $400,000.
"It's a pity it went up in flames," Guerra said.
The Guerra house and others were not threatened by the flames. Hood said it was too dangerous to send firefighters into the empty house to attack the flames in the attic so they continued to pour water on the roof from the outside.
Two fire investigators were called to the scene. About 28 firefighters were called in fight the blaze, manning five fire engines, one truck unit, two medical units and the "Airlight" Unit that provided rehabilitative services to the firefighters like water and air bottles.