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Jefferson house fire ruled arson

POSTED: March 17, 2009 11:09 p.m.

A fire that damaged a home early Monday in the Morgan Creek Subdivision in Jefferson has been ruled an arson by state officials.

"The fire is still under investigation, but we know that it was intentionally set," said Glenn Allen, spokesman for the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine.

Jefferson fire officials were called out to a fire at 52 Hamilton Drive around 3:40 a.m. Monday. Although the two-story structure is still standing, it sustained heavy fire, smoke and soot damage.

State fire officials were called in to investigate the fire after graffiti depicting swastikas and derogatory references to blacks was discovered at the scene of the fire.

A fire where racist graffiti was found was reported on Jan. 18 in Forsyth County. The fire destroyed the home of Pamela Morrow Graf. Graf and her boyfriend, Steve Edward Strobel, were later arrested and charged with first-degree arson.

In the Jefferson fire, the owner of the home, Patrick Forrest, is currently not a suspect, Allen said.

"We’ve been in contact with the homeowner and questioned him. He is not a suspect at this time," Allen said.

"Next, we will be conducting interviews within the (Morgan Creek) neighborhood. We’re also asking any citizen who my have information about the fire to please contact the arson hot line."

Those who use the hot line to give information related to the Hamilton Drive fire, or any other arson case in Georgia, may be eligible for up to a $10,000 reward.

Although the initial investigation has already determined that the fire was an arson after just one day, Allen said there isn’t a set time table to wrap up the entire investigation.


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