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Man sets own house on fire, kills four pets

LAWRENCEVILLE -- There was no home invader that torched the home on Peace Rose Place -- the owner of the Loganville home set his own house on fire, authorities said, killing four family pets in the process.

On the afternoon of Jan. 31, Gwinnett County firefighters were called to the residence of 37-year-old Jonathan Clint Smith. Ravaged by fire, the home was a total loss. Smith, his wife and children were displaced.

Radiant heat and high winds also damaged a neighboring home and a lawn across the street. Four animals perished.

Home alone at the time, Smith reportedly told fire investigators that an unknown burglar had entered the house and started a fire after being confronted. He had also reported a burglary -- complete with missing items -- at the home just a few days prior.

None of it was true, fire department spokesman Lt. Colin Rhoden said Friday. Smith was arrested late Thursday and charged with arson, cruelty to animals, false report of a crime, theft by deception and theft by taking.

"The arrest of this man will give the neighborhood closure to this incident and may bring peace back to the Peace Rose Place community," Rhoden said.

Jail records showed Smith was being held without bond.

"There may be additional theft-related charges leveraged against Smith for his role with the purported burglary and missing items," Rhoden said.

Anyone with additional information regarding the incident is asked to call the Gwinnett Fire, Arson and Explosives Investigations Sections at 678-518-4890.