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BREAKING: City of Covington Fire Department responding to fire in Covington Square area
NC Fire response
NC fire responded

COVINGTON, Ga. — City of Covington's fire department responded to a fire in the Covington Square area Friday night. It was on Monticello St. in Covington. 

As of Saturday afternoon, the City of Covington reported that the fire on the west side of Monticello Street has been extinguished. The Covington fire department and Newton County Fire Services worked through the morning to smother any "hot spots." The Street Department, members of the Land Application Team and Deputy City Manager John King are now cleaning debris from the street.

Streets near the block (portions of Monticello, Hendricks, Reynolds and Washington) remain closed.

At 1:50 a.m. Saturday morning, Joe Doss, City of Covington fire department's fire marshal and interim fire chief, spoke to the press and gave an update.

"In one of our buildings, a fire was located on the backside from where we're standing," Doss said. "Units responded. Found heavy fire in the exterior of the building that found its way interior of the building. These buildings are old. Many, many roofs, many ceilings inside. Found its way between ceiling and roof and it's almost impossible for us to get there to get it out."

Doss stated there were no injuries.  

When asked if he felt like the fire was contained, Doss gave the following response. 

"I haven't heard a report from the battalion chief. He's in command right now," Doss said. "I haven't heard that as of yet. Trying to pay attention, but they got ladder trucks up so they're flowing a lot of water right now. There's a lot of hidden spots in there." 

Doss said he arrived on scene at 9:45 p.m. Friday night. 

Doss stressed that only one building was affected, but the fire impacted four stores — Shelvie Jean, Shear Bliss Salon, The Dude Store and Barber Shop and New Shoez. 

The two buildings adjacent to the fire suffered smoke and water damage.

Doss touched on the historic value of the building – which he estimated to be somewhere from 100-150 years old – and explained how its construction impacted the fire.

“The way they built [these buildings] back in the day, was you build the building, free standing, you build the next building next to that building so the walls touched,” Doss said. “So it’s fantastic the way they built it and that’s what stopped it from going to other buildings.”

In addition to the City of Covington's fire department, Newton, Rockdale, Walton, DeKalb and Henry counties' fire departments as well as the City of Atlanta's fire department were present, according to Doss. Approximately 50 firefighters were on the scene, Doss said. 

Doss said investigations are to happen next.

City of Covington community development director and public information officer Ken Malcom provided insight on the impact of the fire on the businesses and the community.

“This is devastating. There’s been businesses who were doing very well for a number of years and now they’re gone. It’s four businesses that look like they’re just going to be a total loss,” Malcom said.

In the last 12 months, Malcom said 690,000 different people – with a total of 2.6 million “reaches” altogether – have visited the downtown area. Though the movie and television productions that have been filmed throughout Covington have contributed to tourism, Malcom said it has also given opportunity for local businesses to thrive.

“Our merchants have been able to prosper from that and do well with having the influx of people coming in shopping and eating and just spending time in our downtown,” Malcom said. “We’ve lost a section of that.”

Despite the devastation of the fire, Malcom said the “tight-knit” community of Covington will offer aid to those affected by the fire.

“We’ll rebuild and we’ll move forward and we’ll support these merchants that lost everything tonight the best we can,” Malcom said. “We’re a tight knit community and we’ll help them pick things back up.”

This is a developing story and will be updated when more information is available.