Porterdale Police Investigator Doug Clifton had a rough Memorial Day weekend, as he returned to town to find his home and possessions destroyed by an early Sunday morning fire.
Clifton and a roommate rented the home at 11759 Brown Bridge Road, which caught fire early Sunday morning – the call to the fire department came in at 8:49 a.m., county Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien said.
The cause is still being investigated. Clifton was out of town, as he works full time for both the Porterdale police and Delta Airlines, but his roommate was home and was able to get out of the house safely. Clifton did not have renter’s insurance for the contents.
O’Brien said responding firefighters were able to fight the fire quickly, but smoke and water damage made the home a total loss.
According to the fire report, the resident was awakened by noises and found the house full of smoke with flames on the back side of the house, O’Brien said.
The house also had a large deck and pool.
The 1,754-square-foot home is valued at $38,400, according to the Newton County Tax Assessor’s website; it had a 232-square-foot patio. The home was built in 1998.
“I had the clothes I had in my bag and my work clothes I’m wearing now,” Clifton said Tuesday. “I basically have nothing.
“It’s just the second day. I haven’t had time to react to it all. Yesterday I was trying to pick through the pieces of rubble; then, today, I was on duty working.
Clifton is staying with his sister temporarily as he looks for another place to stay.
“I’ve been in law enforcement 35 years. You see these things happen to everyone else, but when it happens to you, you don’t know what emotions to have,” Clifton said. “You don’t know what to do, it’s a unique situation. I’ve seen (tragedy) in law enforcement; you can help people with emotions. But to have something traumatic happen to you, it’s not death, but my memories are gone. My pictures, my school stuff, all those diplomas and awards are gone. I was in Boy Scouts and an Eagle Scout and that’s all gone. You can’t replace that stuff; it doesn’t come back.”
Porterdale Police Lt. Jason Cripps said the department is willing to collect any donations of items or money on behalf of Clifton.
“He lost everything,” Cripps said. “He doesn’t have any underwear, socks (and has only) a minimal amount of clothes. He lost the TV, toothbrush, kids’ pictures, computers … everything’s gone.”
Cripps said any checks should be made out to Clifton personally. The Porterdale Police Department is located at 2602 Main St. For more information, contact Cripps at the main office at 770-786-2226 or his cell, 770-231-2843.
“I’m thankful, I have so many friends. I’ve been in law enforcement for much of life,” Clifton said. “I’ve worked in Rockdale and Walton counties; my family lived in Conyers for a long time. I know everybody and everybody knows me. I’ve been very blessed with folks checking in on me.”