DeKalb County

Mother turns in teen son who she says set fire that destroyed home

LITHONIA, Ga. — Two teenagers are in custody and detectives are searching for at least four others connected to a massive house fire in DeKalb.

Channel 2's Christian Jennings confirmed with DeKalb fire officials the two teens are facing arson charges after a fire destroyed a vacant home off Wellborn Creek Drive in Lithonia.

The fire destroyed one home and damaged at least eight others.

Jennings spoke to the mother of one of the teens, who said she turned in her 15-year-old son, who she said helped set the fire. She said he and at least one other teen told her they accidentally started the fast-moving fire after they broke into a house to smoke pot.

The mother did not want to be identified, but told Jennings she thinks her son may be involved in a local gang and that's why she felt like she had to speak up.

"I apologize tremendously to all the families who were involved in this devastation," she said. "I just want to say these families and the community have to get together and stop these gangs."

Renovations were being done to the vacant home, and at least eight other homes were damaged by the fire. No one was hurt, which surprised people who witnessed the fire's intensity.

Neighbors caught the fire on cellphone video. One neighbor said he saw about six teenagers walk away from the scene.


"It was like a football field of smoke, almost. It was incredible," neighbor Kasseem Stevens told Channel 2's Rikki Klaus. "It looked like a scene out of hell."

Stevens was outside barbecuing for his family when he spotted the fire and sent in cellphone video to Channel 2.

"A raging inferno. Everything was ablaze. From down the block, you could feel the heat and everything. It was just the biggest fire I’ve ever seen in my life. Never seen anything like it," Stevens said.

Firefighters said the wind made the situation much worse. One neighbor who lives across the street said part of her home's exterior melted.

"I’m grateful to God because it could have been a lot worse," she said.

The Red Cross visited the families affected by the fire and is now assisting them.