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Inquiry begins in Jefferson home fire
Arson suspected; swastikas, racist graffiti is found
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A fire on Hamilton Drive in Jefferson that officials are calling suspicious is being investigated by the city’s police department and the state fire marshal.

"We are assisting the fire marshal with the investigation," said Joe Wirthman, Jefferson police chief.

"It was a very suspicious fire; it looks like arson. There were swastikas and (derogatory) references to black people on the walls at the scene of the fire. We don’t know if it was a hate crime, but it does give credibility to this not being an accidental fire."

The Jefferson Fire Department responded to the house fire in the Morgan Creek subdivision at around 3 a.m. Monday, said Captain Darrell Chaisson with the city fire department.

Although the two-story home was still standing, Chaisson said the structure sustained heavy fire damage.

"When our units arrived on scene, there was smoke coming from the eaves of the house and from the attic area," Chaisson said. "The majority of the fire was in the garage area."

No injuries have been reported and it appears that no one was home at the time of the fire, according to Wirthman.

"It is my understanding that the home was in foreclosure, or was about to be foreclosed," Wirthman said. "The home appeared to be empty, but there was still some personal property inside and there was a car in the driveway."

Another fire at which racist graffiti was found was reported earlier this year in Forsyth County. On Jan. 18, a fire destroyed the home of Pamela Morrow Graf. Graf and her boyfriend, Steve Edward Strobel, were later arrested and charged with first-degree arson.