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Officials: Space heater sparked deadly Forest Park fire

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Clayton County fire officials say a space heater is to blame for a deadly blaze that killed an elderly man in a Forest Park house fire Thursday night.

Ninety-year-old Steven Cundrat died in the fire that started around 6:15 p.m., in the 6000 block of Granada Drive, according to Battalion Chief Landry Merkison, of the Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Department.

"It started by a space heater," said Merikson. "Somehow, a space heater ignited some clothes, and some other items that were laying on the floor next to it, and it spread to a bed," he said.

Five other people, who were in the home when the fire started, made it out safely, Merkison said.

He said Cundrat's body was found in a back corner of the home. The homeowner, Richard Bishop, 62, said Cundrat was his father-in-law. "He was living with us," Bishop said.

"It [the fire] started downstairs where my sister-in-law and her two kids were staying," said Bishop, while standing outside the charred remains of his home on Friday. Bishop said he had six Chihuahuas that also died in the fire.

Seven family members were living in the home, according to Bishop, who said he's lived in the house for 31 years.

His daughter, Tonia Bishop, 36, of Fayetteville, said in addition to the loss of life, her father and the family members have lost everything.

"All they have are the clothes on their backs," she said. "Christmas was lost ... presents, and all that."

"My sister and I are getting ready to go to the thrift store and buy some clothes for my dad," she said.

Richard Bishop said all of the family members who were burned out stayed in a motel Thursday night. Eighty percent of the home was destroyed, according to Merkison.

Tonia Bishop said the family is in need of clothing and donations of any kind. Richard Bishop said no fund had been set up for the family by Thursday afternoon.

Anyone who would like to make donations to the family, may contact Tonia Bishop at (770) 369-2754.