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Arsonist Set Deadly Blaze, Authorities Say

RIVERDALE, Ga. (AP) _ A motel fire that killed five people and injured six others was caused by arson, officials said.

``Everyone is 100 percent certain that this is definitely arson,'' Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commission John Oxendine said Wednesday. ``This was a heinous crime.''

The fire, which broke out early last Thursday, destroyed the 44-unit Budget Inn in Riverdale, an Atlanta suburb.

``We are not going to let this go lightly,'' Riverdale Fire Chief Billy Hayes said. ``We do have five victims, I don't want us to lose scope of that. We had firefighters that were injured fighting an intentionally set blaze. I take that personally.''

Killed in the blaze were: Shakita Jones, 32; her children Devon Butler and Desha Butler; her fiance Fred Colston Jr., 26, and her uncle Melvin Jones, 43. Three other residents and three firefighters were injured in the fire.

The fire began behind the economy motel by a stack of mattress below the unit where the victims died, Hayes said.

Arson is a felony offense, and murder charges could also apply, Hayes said. Investigators did not name any suspects, and would not speculate on a motive.

A $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest is being offered.
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