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3 historic homes in Morrow set on fire, mayor says

One of the houses was built in 1846 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

MORROW, Ga. — A massive fire in Clayton County that investigators believe was intentionally set brings one city leader to tears.

The mayor of Morrow cried Saturday evening as he saw what's left of three historic city-owned homes.

The smell of smoke still filled the air as people came to look at the charred remains of the three homes. Nothing is left with two of them, and a third home built in 1846 barely stands. 

“This is a devastating setback just as we’ve begun to turn the corner and fill the long-vacant spaces at The District; and it is an especially tragic loss of history, including the Napier-Small house, a distinguished example of Greek-Revival architecture built in 1846 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places," Morrow City Manager Jeff Baker said.

The City of Morrow lost not only the buildings but a part of its history.

"I got a late-night phone call, and this particular time, it was my police chief," Mayor John Lampl said.

Morrow Mayor John Lampl couldn't believe his eyes when he saw pictures and a video of three homes fully engulfed in flames.

“They’re trying to salvage your city," Lampl said. "The firefighters did a good job."

The three historic homes in what's known as "The District" are a total loss. Small pillars once held up part of the house that's now only a memory.

"This is your city. This is your home," Lampl said. “Part of you is angry. It’s an arson.”

“What leads the investigators right now to believe that these fires were intentionally set is the intensity and speed with which the fire burned," Interim Police Chief David Snively said.

Morrow Interim Police Chief David Snively said the fire is believed to have started in one home shortly after midnight and quickly spread to the other two. 

“They were out using accelerant detecting canines, looking for evidence of accelerants that may have been used to set the fire," Snively said. 

“Justice may be slow, but don’t doubt our abilities," Lampl said. "I’ve got some really good detectives, and the state of Georgia is helping us. The GBI is helping us.”

Mayor Lampl won't let the suspected arsonists win. Morrow will still have its July 4th celebration in The District as planned. 

“This is 8,000 people who want something nice, but the city is strong. The city is very strong, and they’re not going to take this laying down," Lampl said.  

Lampl said the city plans to rebuild the homes. 

Anyone who saw people or vehicles in or around The District from late Friday to midnight Saturday is asked to call Morrow Police at 770-941-4006 or Georgia Arson Control at 1-800-282-5804. Tips can be anonymous, and a reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest.

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