A fire in Smyrna in late October has been declared an arson, fire investigators confirmed to WDEL.

The intentionally-set blaze erupted at 119 Lincoln Street at 7 a.m. on October 25, 2019 in a home that family members said was undergoing renovations.

"My sister called me, I was in California, it was about 6 in the morning...and my mom was on a three-way call, and I just immediately answered the phone: 'what happened?' Because it was so early. And they said the house was on fire," said 43-year-old Maleena Lawrence.

Lawrence, who now lives in Los Angeles, California, said her grandmother formerly lived in the home.

No one was home or living at the home at the time of the fire because Lawrence said it was being remodeled. She said she's particularly concerned because the home was demolished the same day. 

"Our family is livid," said Maleena Lawrence. "It was within hours...the fire happened at 7 in the morning, whenever that boom went off, and then within hours of them putting the fire out, the demolition started as if we gave consent." 

She called it "startling" and "hurtful" to the investigation.

"To make sense of a house that is under pending investigation that it be demolished so thoroughly, to nothing, to shrubs, when the family wasn't even aware that the house was being demolished...it was a part of their protocol based on the type of fire, they said, but that still didn't even make sense because we have insurance investigations to go through as well."

But the state fire marshal said their office didn't order the home to be demolished nor did it compromise their investigation.

"We were complete, we got everything we needed," said Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio. 

But he said if there are structural problems, it's commonplace for homes to be demolished.

"If there's a threat of it falling on somebody...or hurting somebody, they can take appropriate action, but we don't, we usually turn it over to whatever city or town...department and they take care of all that stuff," Chionchio said.

Lawrence claims her family has received multiple offers from developers to buy the land, before and after the fire, but she plans to rebuild their home on that spot. 

Chionchio said another arson also occurred on the 100 block of Lincoln Street in Smyrna on May 12, 2017. No arrests have been made in connection with either Lincoln Street arson.


WDEL's Mike Phillips contributed to this report.