CAIRO — The Cairo Fire Department has determined that a blaze which resulted in the total loss of a city residence earlier this week was caused by arson.
Firefighters responded to a house fire on the 200 block of Fifth Avenue SW in the early hours of Tuesday morning. When the fire department arrived at the scene at around 4:30 a.m., the residence was completely engulfed by flames.
Fire department personnel extinguished the blaze after about 20 minutes and prevented it from spreading to surrounding homes.
A subsequent fire department investigation determined that the cause of the fire was arson. Investigators determined that the blaze began on the front porch and spread through the attic to the rest of the house.
Additionally, a five-gallon propane tank and heater were reported stolen from the residence.
The Cairo Fire Department is handling the investigation.
The residence, which was in the final stages of a renovation project and did not have running electricity, was vacant at the time of the fire.
According to the homeowner Berry Dodson, the house was being refurbished to provide a place for a family friend in need to move into in time for Christmas.
"It had no power in it so I didn't think it was going to catch on fire," Dodson said. "I didn't take into consideration someone setting it on fire."
Dodson had been working with a contractor almost non-stop since Labor Day to restore the house to livable conditions. He was only about two weeks away from completion when he received a call that the house was in flames.
Dodson quickly deduced that the fire must have been arson since there was no running electricity in the house, though he is unsure why anyone would seek to target him.
"I don't know of any enemies that I've got," he said.
Most of all, Dodson said he was disappointed that the young man who was to live in the house will no longer be able to do so.
"It's terrible and it's bad, but there's nothing I can do to change it," he said.
Anyone with knowledge of the fire is asked to call the Cairo Fire Department at (229) 377-3293 or the Georgia Arson hotline at 1-800-282-5804.