published Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Dalton man sets house on fire with kids inside, police say

On the evening of Sept. 3, Sara Edwards heard a knock on the door. She opened it and found Charles Richard Davis Jr., a man who was staying at a nearby house.

That house was on fire, she remembers him saying. They needed help.

"You could see the flames from here," said Edwards, standing across the road on her front porch Wednesday afternoon, about a month after the incident.

Edwards said her fiance, Tylor Manley, raced with a pot of water to the house, located at 41 Sierra Lane in Rossville. He found flames burning through a couch. He poured water on the furniture, beat the fire with his shirt and helped escort three children out of the house.

In all, eight people were inside. One woman suffered from smoke inhalation, records show. She went to a local hospital and later was released. Nobody else inside was injured.

On Monday, four weeks after the fire, the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office arrested Davis, 28, of 2208 Chattanooga Road in Dalton, Ga., on a charge of arson and seven counts of reckless conduct. He remained in the Catoosa County Jail on Wednesday afternoon in lieu of a $14,500 bond.

An agent with the Georgia Fire Marshal's Office investigated the case. Glenn Allen, spokesman for insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, said Wednesday that the fire caused "minor" damage. He would not say how the fire started.

Edwards, 21, said Davis did not live at that house. The property is rented to other people, and those people were gone that weekend, she said. Edwards said they were in the hospital.

She said the people with Davis that night were there to house sit.

Contact Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com.

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