Georgia loses Smokey the arson dog

Smokey was the fifth canine arson investigator for Georgia. / Provided by Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner's Office

Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens announced Tuesday that Smokey, the state arson canine has passed away after a brief illness.

"We'll always remember Smokey as a valuable employee in the fight against arson," Hudgens said. "His death leaves a great sadness within the entire department."

Officials say that between October 2003 and April 2013, Smokey and his handler, investigator Ken Palmer were involved in over 700 fire investigations around the state. Smokey's specialized training allowed him to determine if accelerants were used to start a fire. This ability led to the arrest of numerous arson suspects, which included arrests for murders that involved arson.

Hudgins says that Smokey worked his last assignment on March 30th in Catoosa County.