Rockdale County

Conyers family of 14 says they lost everything in fire

CONYERS, Ga. — A Rockdale County family of 14 said they’re starting from scratch after a fire destroyed everything they owned.

They told Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln that the fire happened last Wednesday on Main Street in Conyers and that it was intentionally set.

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Lincoln spoke with the family of 14 — nine of whom are children — who were living in the home that the fire destroyed. Now, they’re asking for help to avoid being homeless.

Shanathia Bentford reached out to Channel 2 for help. She said she and her five kids lived in the home with her sister, her sister’s four children and three other family members.

Bentford said that when she returned to her home Wednesday after taking the kids to school, she found the home engulfed in flames.

“We got phone calls from people that know us and they were like the house is on fire,” Bentford said.


Rockdale fire investigators told Brentford that they’re still investigating the cause of the fire, but they do know the fire was started on the outside of the house in the rear.

Bentford said she is thankful her family was not home at the time.

“I was at a loss for words. I was crying,” she said. “It was just so sad to see my kids cry, which made me cry even harder.”

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The family had been living in the home for six years, and could not afford renters insurance.

The sisters said the Red Cross stepped in to help them by putting them up in a nearby hotel, but they are left to figure out what to do next.

“[Monday] is the last day to stay in that room, and we don’t have no money for it,” Suttles told Lincoln.

According to the FBI, the number of arson cases increased by 19.2% in the first six months of 2020 compared to the first six months of 2019.

One of the sisters said she lost her job during the pandemic, so it’s been one hurdle after another for this family. The family has started a GoFundMe to help their recovery.

“I just beg and ask people to help us,” Quinesha Suttles said.