CUMMING - No one was hurt, but Forsyth County fire officials are saying the scenario could have easily been different after someone set fire to wreaths on the front doors of some homes in a Cumming neighborhood.
The vandal(s) set fire to the decorations on New Year's Eve, according to Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers.
Shivers said firefighters were dispatched to a home in the Bridgewood neighborhood around 3 a.m. and found a decorative, natural wreath had been set on fire.
"When the wreath burned it did a tremendous amount of damage to the front door of the home and also did melting damage to the soffit of the front porch overhang that was above the door," said Shivers. "The family definitely could have been trapped," he said. "They were fortunate in such that smoke made it in to the home and set off a smoke detector."
Shivers said later, two more incidents similar in nature but less damaging were reported to the fire department by the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office. Shivers said after investigation, all three incidents were determined to be intentional.
A series of mailbox vandalism in the neighborhood is believed to be linked as well. "About two dozen mailboxes had been ripped from the ground and vandalized," said Shivers. "We found it likely that all the incidents were related and we were working those two cases together."
Previous reports indicate a teen had confessed to his involvement and has offered an apology to homeowners. While the 17-year-old has told authorities he was not the one who set the fires, he has admitted he was with the group that committed the offenses.
In addition, the teen has admitted he took part in uprooting the mailboxes. However, Shivers said they have no one in custody for the arson and no knowledge of any admission of guilt. He said the department was following leads in the arson incidents and plans to pursue charges.
"It's not a prank, it's not funny, it's not a simple childhood mistake, this is arson and it's a serious crime," said Shivers.