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Backwoods fire likely an arson; co-owner commits suicide after blaze

From Anna Lewis, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office: At approximately 6:20pm, October 1, 2019, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Monroe County EMS and Monroe County Fire responded to a building fire at 5047 Highfalls Rd. Upon arrival, the business Backwoods Bar and Grill, was engulfed with heavy smoke and flames. Monroe County Firefighters worked hard to put the fire out while protecting surrounding businesses from the fire. The business is co-owned by Gary Lawrence and Amanda Smallwood with Lawrence being the main owner. Lawrence was seen by witnesses leaving the business shortly before the call was made to Monroe County E-911. We do know that after Lawrence left the business, he drove to his sister’s house to swap out vehicles and then drove to his ex-wife’s house in Macon. At his ex-wife’s home, he committed suicide. Due to evidence, the fire is being considered Arson. The exact cause of the fire and reason for suicide is currently an active investigation.

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