Investigators offer reward for arrest of arsonist who torched historic homes in Morrow's 'The District'

Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner John King said his office is investigating "suspicious" fires that destroyed three historic buildings in Morrow over the weekend. 

The buildings, which were located in Morrow's historic downtown, known as The District, burned down late Friday evening or early Saturday. First responders shared video of flames reaching about 20 feet high. State fire investigators were there, King said.  

Investigators are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of a suspect. 

"At the request of local police and fire officials, we have dispatched several arson investigators, including two K9 units," King said in a statement. "At this point, the fires are considered suspicious and are being investigated as such. I urge anyone with information on these fires to call the Georgia Arson Control Hotline at 1-800-252-5804."

By the time firefighters arrive, officials said three homes were fully engulfed in flames.

A Morrow Fire Department spokesperson said details at the scene indicated the cause of the fires may have been arson. Investigators believe the speed and intensity of the fire points to fires being set intentionally. 

Morrow's Interim Police Chief David Snively said vandals have previously targeted the historic downtown district. 

"Our detectives have successfully identified several previous offenders, including an attempted arsonist; and we will work tirelessly with fire investigators to determine the exact events surrounding this incident as well," Snively said. 

What is ‘The District’ in Morrow?

The District is a cluster of historic homes in downtown Morrow.

The area between Southlake Mall and Interstate 75 was previously known as Olde Towne Morrow. The city transported homes that dated back to the 1800s into the area. One structure, the Napier-Small house, was built in 1846 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Snively said some homes were purchased for as much as $1. 

Businesses moved from the area, and it fell into disrepair. Since, the city has redeveloped the area and brought some events to the area in an effort to revitalize it. 

Now, a handful of businesses are planning to move into the area. The fires created a setback to filling the long-vacant spaces, but the first few tenants could still move into undamaged buildings in a few weeks.