Arson charges filed in Byron Road house fire

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Numerous fire units and volunteers from the Salem Volunteer Fire Department responded to a house fire on Monday morning, May 18, at a vacant home on Byron Road in Salem. Heavy black smoke blanketed the neighborhood. While the home was not occupied, the fire was so intense it melted siding and damaged the roof of a neighboring home.
Richard Irby

Salem Fire Department responded to a house fire on Byron Road in Salem on Monday (May 18) morning.

Salem Fire Chief Sam Rossitto said when the department responded within six minutes, the home was fully engulfed in flames. Though they received reports the home was vacant, firefighters entered the home and couldn’t find anything. “We hate to see [a complete loss], but it makes me feel good that no one got hurt,” he said. “Our 11 departments in Fulton County take it to heart, and never want to lose. We take it personal.”

In this case, it’s almost as if the battle was lost before they began fighting. On Tuesday, May 19, an arrest for arson, a class A felony, was made by Salem Police Chief Shad Overman.

Bob Mitchum

Donald Lee Mefford, Jr., 30, of Salem, was arrested by the Salem Police Department. According to court documents, after being called on scene to the fire, Chief Overman noticed a white male subject acting suspiciously. After speaking with neighbors who reported to see Mefford enter the home and take items on numerous occasions, Overman asked Mefford to go to the police station, where he was interviewed.

Mefford admitted to starting the fire, saying “he lit a cloth with a cigarette lighter and placed it inside a dresser inside the residence.” Mefford called 911 after approximately 10 minutes, when he knew the fire had spread.

The house was unoccupied.

Bob Mitchum

Mefford’s bond was set at $5,000.

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