FLOWERY BRANCH — State and local authorities are investigating a Monday morning fire at a Railroad Avenue house, where a 57-year-old man was found dead.
Hall County Fire Marshal Capt. Scott Cagle said the fire appeared suspicious based on "burn patterns in the floor and the evidence we have found on the scene."
"What we have done is take some samples of fire debris left on the floor and we will can those up and take those to the (state) crime lab, where they'll do an analysis on it to see if there was any kind of flammable liquid that was used," Cagle said.
The dead man was identified as Dennis Chadwick. His body also has been taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab for an autopsy.
The fire department responded after getting a call from a neighbor who reported that an adjacent home was on fire and that flames could be seen from the back of the house, Chief David Kimbrell said.
Firefighters arrived to find fire showing from the rear of the 1,200-square-foot home in the 5100 block of Railroad Avenue, near Chattahoochee Street, and heavy smoke throughout the structure.
Flowery Branch Police officers arrived before the fire department and reported that a man was out back of the home and was possibly dead, Kimbrell said.
Paramedics checked on the man and confirmed that he was dead, he added.
"We're just calling it a death investigation right now," Flowery Branch Chief Gerald Lanich said. "We're not going to classify it as anything else until we get some things together."
The GBI's Crime Scene Unit also responded to the scene. John Bankhead, GBI spokesman, couldn't be reached for comment.
The house, valued at about $110,000, is a total loss, Cagle said.
Don Baggett, owner of Authentic Furniture Refurbishing, which is next door, said that Chadwick "was just the nicest guy in the world."
The two men would visit each other occasionally, talking in the afternoons.
"We'd drink a beer every now and then," Baggett said.
Chadwick would keep an eye on Baggett's shop, going as far as setting up surveillance cameras aimed at his business.
Baggett expressed shock over his sudden death. "It's a hit," he said.