DULUTH, Ga. -- After searching all morning, authorities investigating a house fire in Duluth have confirmed that the bodies of two more victims have been recovered from the home. That brings the death toll in the deadly fire to five.
Firefighters responded to the 2200 block of Post Oak Drive NW in Duluth around 3:30 a.m. Sunday after a neighbor called 911 to report fire and heavy smoke. When crews got to the scene, they found a two-story home fully-engulfed in flames.
According to Gwinnett Fire Department Capt. Tommy Rutledge, the flames were so intense when firefighters arrived, crews had to battle the fire from the outside with an aerial ladder first in order to gain control.
Several neighbors have told me about a bonfire in backyard of home last night. pic.twitter.com/eQDZh1omvr— Joe Henke (@JoeHenke) October 23, 2016
Once firefighters were able to get inside, they found the bodies of three people. But information gathered from neighbors and additional family members indicates that as many as five people -- three adult women and two adult men -- might have been inside the home before the fire. Just before 2 p.m., officials discovered the remaining two. They also recovered the bodies of a dog and a cat.
PHOTOS | 3 killed in Duluth house fire
PHOTOS: Several killed in Duluth house fire
Fire and police detectives are both investigating the cause of the fire to find out exactly how it began, however preliminary information indicates that it began in the the back deck area, where a fire pit was located. A neighbor told investigators that the residents inside were using the fire pit late last night, and officials are not ruling out that it have may been the cause of the fire.
The investigation is still ongoing, though it has been slowed because the main floor of the home has collapsed, causing severe structural instability.
The identities and ages of the victims are still not being released at this time until the Medical Examiner’s Office conducts a positive identification and family is notified.