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CPD officer, family lose home in fire
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A Covington police officer and his family lost their home in a house fire Wednesday. No one was injured.

Chief Kevin O’Brien with Newton County Fire Service said firefighters were dispatched to the fire on Mt. Mariah Road around 7:15 a.m. When they arrived, O’Brien said, they found a fully involved attic fire.

"We initiated an offensive attack, but due to no water in the area and we didn’t have enough water on our truck, the first responding unit wasn’t able to do an offense attack," O’Brien said.

He explained that firefighters had to conduct a defensive attack on the fire, shuttling water from nearby Elks Club Road. The Covington Fire Department and the Walton County Fire Department assisted. O’Brien said the nearly 2,600-square-foot home, owned by CPD officer Chris Smith, was a total loss.

According to CPD Capt. Ken Malcom, Smith and his two children were able to get out of the home, and there were no injuries. O’Brien said the Smith family will be staying with relatives in the area.

O’Brien said strong winds contributed to the devastation of the early morning fire.

"There are no fire hydrants out there off of Mount Mariah, and having no fire hydrants and the winds this morning definitely drove that fire a lot faster than normal," he said.

Malcom said the police department is offering support to Smith and his family.

"We are trying to do everything that we can in the law enforcement family to help him. They lost everything other than a couple of vehicles that were in the driveway. ... People are asking about what they can do. If they want to help, they can do so through donations to the Police Who Care fund," he said.

"It’s our own police charity organization and it was designed to help out law enforcement officers and their families in times of need. And you know, we’ve, over the last several years, offered assistance to a number of families, police officers and their families, for officers who have died in the line of duty across the state," Malcom said. "Fortunately, we haven’t had to, over the years, help our own that often, but this is one of those situations where we are going to come together to help out the family."

O’Brien said the fire is still under investigation and might have been a chimney fire that extended into the attic.

Two additional house fires were reported Wednesday. O’Brien said fire officials responded to a home on Bell Street at Ga. Highway 162 in reference to a fire that started in a dryer. The occupants made it out of the home, he said.

Firefighters also responded to a structure fire at 360 River Cove Ridge. O’Brien said the small garage fire started when hot ashes from a fireplace were put in a container in the garage. There was minor damage to the garage area, and all occupants made it out of the home, he said.