House set on fire with family inside, Third suspicious fire in Catoosa County
CATOOSA COUNTY, Ga (WDEF) – Officials say since late summer a series of fires have been deliberately set at unoccupied homes in North Georgia but the most recent home went ablaze with a family inside, causing North Georgians and officials to be on high alert.
“Someone had set a fire in the driveway. It went up the side of the house and spread into the attic. They had some significant damage to the home enough to where they cannot stay in the home right now but the home is not a total loss. The other two structures that were burned were pretty much total losses,” says John Pless, Catoosa County PIO.
Investigators say they aren’t sure if all three fires are connected, but they do share some things in common such as the time of day the fires were set and the close proximity to each other.
Shannon Vandergriff and her family were sound asleep Monday night when she woke up to find the side of her house on fire.
“I saw our driveway was illuminated, then at that point I opened the front door and there were flames,” says Shannon Vandergriff.
Vandergriff says this isn’t the first time her house has been deliberately set on fire. The back of their home and RV were set on fire earlier this year.
“We live in a very large neighborhood so why our house? What drove them to us? Did they think the house was empty? It’s definitely a scary thought to know that we are a target. I feel like they are going to keep coming back until they succeed with whatever it is they are trying to do,” says Vandergriff.
Officials admit that this slew of crimes is very unusual for the area.
“Every once in a blue moon we will get for whatever reason a house fire that has been deliberately set but it’s not often. This is unusual in the sense that this has happened within the last couple of months,” says Pless.
Vandergriff is thankful to the community for reaching out and donating items but says their greatest need right now is to find a place to rent.
The Georgia state fire Marshall is offering up to a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible. call 1-800-282-5804.