May 2, 2014

Arson suspected in multiple fires

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Two fires in as many days — about six hundred yards apart — have local firefighters suspecting an arsonist is responsible.

Both fires, one on Sunday and one on Monday, occurred late at night. Both were fully involved when volunteer firefighters arrived on the scene, and the two dwellings were approximately 2,000 feet apart.

Rodney Gay, chief of the Laurel County Volunteer Fire Department, said Sunday night’s fire was paged out around midnight to a mobile home on Waterworks Road.

“I talked to the landowner who said the trailer was her mother’s, who had died a few months ago,” Gay said. “The trailer was vacant and there was no electric to it.”

That, coupled with the fact that the trailer was fully engulfed by the time firefighters arrived, made the situation “suspicious,” he added.

“I had guys at the station and they had a very short response time — maybe five minutes. For something to become fully engaged that fast, and no electric to the house, makes it look suspicious.”

The second fire on Monday night occurred just a few hundred yards away and had a very similar scenario.

“This was a house that, again, was unoccupied,” Gay said. “Someone was living in this house, but was just out of town. But again, I had guys at the fire station who went right out and this house was fully engulfed within the five minutes it took us to get a truck there.”

Strong winds on Monday night also caused problems for firefighters responding to the scene.

“We had very strong winds last night and the fire was actually blowing across the road,” Gay added. “I showed up with the tanker truck, but I couldn’t get past the house to the hydrant. That’s when I called in for mutual aid from the city (fire department) for water and personnel.”

Due to the odd circumstances of both fires, Gay said he called in the Kentucky State Police Arson Investigator, Brian Lewis, to the scenes.

“The fact that the trailer was abandoned and the renter in the house was out of town made it even more suspicious,” Gay added.

Lewis was reportedly conducting interviews with residents in the area Wednesday. Gay said he had also requested extra patrols in the area by area law enforcement for the next few days.

“We are asking the residents in the area to call police if they see any suspicious activity,” Gay said.