Official: Cause of fatal Athens house fire unknown



By Joe Johnson

Investigators were unable to determine the cause of an Athens house fire that killed a resident last month, an Athens-Clarke County fire official said on Monday.

The Feb. 23 fire at a home on Georgia Drive killed its sole resident, 62-year-old Lavonne Marie Mercia.

The woman’s remains were discovered by personnel with the Athens-Clarke County Fire and Emergency Services Department who responded to the fire in the Carr’s Hill neighborhood off Oak Street in east Athens.

Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson said the woman was so badly burned her identity was not positively made until five days after the fire by personnel at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s State Crime Lab.

Assistant Fire Chief Mark Melvin said the fire did not appear to have resulted from foul play but an investigation was conducted in an attempt to determine its cause.

“The investigation has been complete and the fire is undetermined.” Melvin said on Monday.

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