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Officials say similar fires in two-minute span not related

NORCROSS - Officials don't believe two early morning residential fires reported within two minutes of each other in the Norcross area Thursday are related.

One fire appears accidental; the other could be arson, an official said.

Both fires took 25-person teams of firefighters about an hour to extinguish. Both caused heavy damage to homes. Both are under investigation.

"At this point," said Gwinnett fire spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge, "firefighters do not believe the two fires are related."

The first reported fire, which occurred roughly five miles from the second, was called in at 3:27 a.m., two minutes before the second fire, Rutledge said.

Investigators are calling the blaze suspicious, but they declined to say where in the house the fire started or what caused it.

Firefighters found the single-story home in the 5700 block of Pine Road consumed by flames when they arrived. The main structure of the home collapsed into its basement. A woman who lived in the home was treated and released at the scene for minor smoke inhalation, Rutledge said.

At 3:29 a.m., firefighters responded to a split-level home in the 6100 block of Williams Road in Norcross, which also was fully ablaze by the time authorities got there. The structure later collapsed, Rutledge said.

The later fire appears accidental, Rutledge said.

Four occupants - three adults and a child - were awoken by a smoke detector and escaped the home without injury, Rutledge said.

Officials contacted the Red Cross to provide assistance to the family.

"Investigators believe the fire originated in the kitchen and quickly spread to the rest of the house," Rutledge said.