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UPDATE: Fire victims' names released
2 elderly residents die in house fire off Irwin Bridge Road

UPDATE: Investigators have released the names of the two victims in the house fire at 1573 Mountain View Circle. Peggy Stanich, 78, and Frank Bitterman II, 68, were found unconscious when firefighters arrived to the burning house.

Stanich, a long time Conyers resident and a member of the Olivia Haydel Senior Center for the past 11 years, owned the home and rented a room to Bitterman, a retired veteran who initially lived out of state but came to Georgia for medical treatment at the Veteran's Administration hospital.

Senior Center members Dorothea Cox and Chris Tinker recalled that Bitterman had been sleeping in his car when he came to town for medical treatments.

Cox and Tinker described Stanich as unstoppable and constantly involved in activities and trips at the Center. Stanich was a chaplain for the Red Hat Ladies club that Cox ran. Stanich had also been a part of the Memory Lane singers and Golden Steppers dance group.

"She insisted on going on every trip, even if we had to help her," said Cox. Stanich had foot problems and walked with a cane, but she didn't let that slow her down.

Senior Center administrator Susan Morgan recalled Stanich attended a trip earlier this year out to a game ranch that involved a lot of walking. "She was such a trooper. She wasn't going to let anything stop her."

"Peggy was very self sufficient," said Tinker. "She lived within her income. If she didn't have the money, she would do without."

She was also thoughtful and positive and never sat around and complained, said Tinker. "If you did something nice for her, she would bring you a gift."

"She lived for the future every day," said Tinker.

Stanich had a daughter who lived in the area and occasionally attended covered dish suppers at Conyers First United Methodist.




(Oct. 2, 2:47 p.m.) Two elderly residents were killed in a house fire Tuesday morning just before noon.

Firefighters arrived and saw smoke and flames coming out of the right side window of the home. The first victim, an elderly female, found in the living room; the second victim, an elderly male, was found in the bedroom down the hall.

A passerby called to report the fire around 11:40 a.m. today. Dispatchers told firefighters there were two people in the home. The house did not have residential sprinklers. Investigators are currently determining whether smoke detectors were functioning properly. About 30 percent of the house was damaged.

The residents were frequent visitors to the Olivia Hayel Senior Center.

Neighbor Michelle Smith described the female resident as a friendly person.

"She was a sweet lady. She was always friendly with everybody," she said.

The victim had children and a friend who occasionally took her to Walmart.

"She's not suffering anymore," Smith said.

Investigators are still determining the cause of the fire. Investigators with the Rockdale Sheriff's Office, state fire marshall's office, Rockdale Fire and Rescue and the Rockdale Coroners office are at the scene.


PREVIOUS STORY: At least two fatalities have been confirmed at a house fire that occurred around noon Tuesday on Mountain View Circle just off of Irwin Bridge Road in Rockdale County.

The one-alarm blaze occurred in a single story ranch-style home and the call to the Rockdale County Fire and Rescue Department went out just before noon. The identities of the victims have not been released. Officials are contacting the next of kin. The county coroner is at the scene. Check back later for more information.