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Blaze destroys historic house

DEARING, Ga. -- A two-story historic house, built during the Revolutionary War near Dearing burned to the ground Monday afternoon.

Because no one was living there and there was no electricity running to it, fire officials believe it was set by trespassers earlier in the day.

"When most of us arrived, the house was completely involved and portions of it falling in," McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services Assistant Chief Stephen Sewell said. "There was really nothing we could do except try to keep the fire from spreading into a wooded area and a field."

The house, surrounded by large trees, which provided shade, was built in 1778, according to Jay Axon, of Dearing. Mr. Axon said he and some friends had leased the property that the historic house sat on for hunting purposes the last several years. It was located in a field, off the dirt portion of Randall Hunt Road outside of Dearing.

Mr. Axon leases the property, owned by the Zachary Estate in California, from a management firm.

"We've been hunting deer on this land for about five years," Mr. Axon said. "There was more history in this house, in my opinion, than the Rock House."

The Rock House is another historic landmark, located in the western end of McDuffie County.

During the Revolutionary War, the two-story house was owned by William Drane, who served as a captain in during that war, Mr. Axon said.

"It's a terrible loss," he added, in reference to the historical significance the house represented.

Mr. Axon said he had cleaned out the house sometime ago and there was nothing inside.

He told reporters that the property was constantly being trespassed on by adults and children.

"We've tried to keep them out, but nothing seems to work," Mr. Axon said. "There's always somebody over here on this property."

Assistant Chief Sewell said it is unlikely that fire officials will be able to determine the origin or determine how the fire got started, because of the damage that was done.

The last time the home was lived in was about six years ago. Luther Cartledge, a soybean farmer, who died about a year ago, lived in the historic house for several years, Mr. Axon said.

"He tended this land for many years," he added.

Web posted on Thursday, September 09, 2010

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