Local Update - March 28, 2007

Historic Augusta home destroyed in fire

A piece of Augusta history is gone.

A fire has destroyed an abandoned home on Powell Road, off Gordon Highway, past Fort Gordon's Gate One.

The home was more than 100 years old, built in what was then a very rural area of Richmond County.

No one was hurt. Investigators are trying to determine a cause.

Family escapes fire that destroys home

A family of nine people, including six children, is looking for a place to stay after a fire swept through their home overnight.

Now investigators are looking into how it happened.

It all happened overnight on Old Union Road in Harlem.

Everyone is okay, but a big family is without their home right now.

Firefighters responded to the fire around 12:30 this morning. Nine people were home at the time, including six children.

The homeowner says she heard a loud pop shortly before going to bed around 10:30, but couldn't figure out what it was.

She tells us her home is so damaged, it's unlivable.

Homeowner Rachel Morris told us it was a close call.

"We called everybody, got out, but one child, so my daughter went back in to get her, and I went behind her and we got her out, but it was just in time because the smoke was so bad and we couldn't breathe."

No word yet on a cause.

Deputy Eric Mark Sikes laid to rest

Yesterday, family, friends, and fellow law enforcement officers said goodbye to Richmond County Deputy Eric Mark Sikes.

Deputy Sikes died last week when his patrol car went off the road and crashed between some trees.

Hundreds filled Warren Baptist Church for his funeral. Many say the service was very meaningful and very emotional.

"We'll begin to miss his presence being there every day at roll call. I'm sure it's going to be hard for us," Sgt. Robbie Silas said.

"He was very nice," said Deputy Marshal Brian Thomas. "You couldn't have a better friend or deputy to be on the road with."

Deputy Sikes' memory will continue to live through another deputy. Last week, Deputy Sikes' family decided to donate his kidney to Deputy David James.

Deputy James got shot in the line of duty about 17 years ago. He received a transplanted kidney from his mother, but it recently started to fail.

The kidney he got from Deputy Sikes was a perfect match.

Community in shock after principal admits to sex crime

A former principal says he's guilty of a sex crime. Now, some are wondering how it got this far.

A four-month investigation by the GBI brought forth a history of allegations against former Warren County Principal Thomas McDonald.

He pleaded guilty to sodomy Friday.

The DA's office says they have evidence showing similar accusations of inappropriate contact with students while McDonald was working as a teacher for the Burke County school system. Because these incidents never went to court, the superintendent tells us there was no way for her to find out about it in a background check.

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