Officials look into string of structure fires by arsonist?

Published 8:18 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2009

By By MaryClaire Foster
A fire at an abandoned structure on North Carney Street Sunday was the latest in a string of fires started by an outside influence since the beginning of the year.
Atmore Fire Chief Gerry McGhee said he could not say whether the incidents were related, but that the fire department, along with the State Fire Marshal’s office, is investigating the matter.
McGhee said there is no obvious correlation, such as location, to connect the fires except for them being all abandoned structures and purposely set.
The fires occurred at locations on North Carney Street, Curtis Street, May Street, Curtis Street, Liberty Street and two on the corner of Harris and Crow streets.
Sunday’s fire occurred at approximately 11:30 a.m. while most of the other fires occurred during the early morning hours.
State Fire Marshal Deputy Mike Talley said because the fires are all still under investigation. He could not speculate what the sentence would be if the criminal were caught.
McGhee said that the brush fire that forced the closing of I-65 Friday was not part of the investigation. According to reports, that fire, along with another in Baldwin County Sunday night, are also suspected to have been caused by arson.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 30 percent of arson fires occur in structures, with juveniles accounting for more than half of all arson arrests in the United States.
McGhee asked that if anyone has any information about any fires to please contact the fire department at 368-9156 or State Fire Marshal’s Office at (334) 241-4166.

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