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Posted: February 10, 2017 10:09 a.m.

UPDATE: Victim of fatal house fire identified

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The skeleton of a home is left in the days after the fatal house fire. (Submitted Photo | The Covington News)

UPDATE Friday, Feb. 10: Newton County Coroner Tommy Davis identified the male victim as James Adams. Davis did not release Adams’ age at the time of his death. He also said the cause and manner of death were still being determined. 

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An unknown male has been pronounced dead after a house fire Jan. 9 on Pine Glenn Circle, in Covington.

Covington Fire Department (CFD) Deputy Chief Tony Smith said the fire department received the call for a fire at 6112 Pine Glenn Circle at 11:22 p.m. and arrived to the scene five minutes later to find the one-story home 75 to 80 percent involved.

One of the home’s occupants was in the front yard and the other occupant was unaccounted for. Smith said once the fire was extinguished and primary and secondary searches were completed, one fire victim was located inside the home. The identity of that victim has not been verified yet and Smith could not say whether or not it was the unaccounted for second occupant of the home.

Newton County Coroner Tommy Davis said he is waiting to get the results on the victim’s dental records before confirming his identity.

Smith said the cause of death for the victim was thermal and smoke inhalation, which was determined by an autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI).

“Right now we have ruled the fire accidental in nature,” Smith said. “We know the area of origin of the fire, but only have hypothesis of the cause.”

With information gather from the other occupant, Smith said, the second occupant of the home utilized space heaters. The fire started in the second occupant’s bedroom and there were space heaters present, but the CFD has not determined if the space heaters were active during the time of the fire.

Smith urged the public to use caution when using space heaters in their homes.

“On cold nights, what we tell people is this, if you’re going to use a space heater, or some kind of heating device, make sure there’s a minimum of three feet between your space heater and any other combustible,” he said. “Make sure your space heater is plugged directly into the outlet and not an extension cord. Cords also need to be free and clear of anything.”

He also recommended only using space heaters that are intended for internal use and that have the special tip-over safety feature.

“The best thing that they can do is make sure they have a working smoke detector in the home,” he said. “The City of Covington does provide those free of charge, just contact the fire department and we’ll install them or check the ones they have.”

Smith said due to the amount of destruction in the home, CFD was unable to determine whether or not there was a smoke detector in the home.

Smith said the City of Covington does not see a lot of fire-related fatalities annually. In his 21-year career, the Jan. 9 fatality was only the third one he has worked within the city limits.

The one remaining occupant of the home, who was uninjured, was connected with the American Red Cross, which was able to help him find temporary housing before he was able to find permanent relocation. Both occupants were renters of the home. 

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