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Fire leaves family of five homeless
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A Wednesday night fire that damaged part of an Oxford duplex and destroyed most of its contents left a family of five homeless, but the Red Cross and the family’s home church is rallying to offer support.

County firefighters arrived at 5:28 p.m. to battle a blaze at 508 Haygood Street in Oxford, but the approximately 1,800-square-foot unit was engulfed in flames and was severely damaged, county Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien said.

He estimated the total value of the property and contents at about $100,000 and said around $75,000 worth of it was destroyed.

The duplex was being rented by Melinda and Todd McCart and their three children.

Melinda is a bus driver with the Newton County School System and the family attends Eastridge Community Church.
The Atlanta Red Cross provided immediate assistance, including clothing, food and temporary hotel accommodations, Red Cross spokesperson Ruben Brown said.

Eastridge Community Church is gathering gift cards, cash and checks for the family, said Linda Miller, director of missions and outreach for the church.

Any donations can be dropped off between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Mondays–Thursdays or Sunday mornings or mailed to the church at 863 Ga. Highway 142 E, Covington, 30014.

The church also is filling immediate needs including toothbrushes and clothing, but isn’t taking donations of other supplies because the family currently has no place to store any items, Miller said.

O’Brien said the fire appeared to start in the kitchen, but it did not spread to the other unit in the duplex, which did suffer smoke damage and had to be evacuated as well.

According to the Newton County Tax Assessor’s Office, the building is valued at $215,500.

Brown said the Red Cross also is looking for volunteers to aid in emergency disasters, like the recent tornado in Mansfield.

A Red Cross team was out at that scene within two hours.

“If a family has a home fire or any other type of disaster, then they can rely on the Red Cross to provide emergency food, shelter and emotional support,” Brown said. “We offer general emergency assistance, but we also can serve as a link between the family and mid- to long-term resources.”

Newton County falls under the metropolitan Atlanta chapter of the Red Cross; for more information about the Red Cross and how to join, visit

People can fill out an online application to start the process of volunteering.

Fincher Road barn destroyed
O’Brien said there were no other major fires this week, but an uninhabited barn at 471 Fincher Road was destroyed April 30.

Units arrived at 8:43 p.m., but the barn was already engulfed and firefighters simply worked to prevent any spread of the blaze.

There were no contents of value, but the building was a total loss, O’Brien said.

No cause has yet been unidentified; the building had power running to it, O’Brien said.