Two fires added to list of suspected arsons

Published 1:23 am Friday, March 4, 2011

A fire in Aurora early Thursday morning and the discovery of an open gas line and burned items in the Long Acre Community Building early Thursday morning have been added to a growing list of suspected arsons in Beaufort County.

The State Bureau of Investigation is processing those fire scenes as suspected arsons, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

At 12:38 a.m. Thursday, the sheriff’s office received a report of a fire at an abandoned residence in the 700 block of Bay City Road in Aurora. The Aurora Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire. The fire department notified the sheriff’s department the fire was suspicious in nature. A deputy was sent to secure the scene.

At 5:21 a.m., the sheriff’s office receive a report of a strong odor of gas at the Long Acre Community Building, located at 23177 N.C. Highway 32 North, Plymouth. The Pinetown Volunteer Fire Department responded to the building and discovered an open gas line and burned items.

Investigators are trying to determine if those two fires are related to other arsons in Beaufort County in the past two weeks, according to the sheriff’s office.

“There’s a chance of that,” replied Beaufort County Fire Marshal Curtis Avery when asked if the fire in Aurora indicates the rash of arsons, which had been confined to the northeast part of the county, may be spreading to other areas of the county.

Firefighters have increased their alertness level, Avery noted.

“They are kind of keeping their eyes open to what’s going on around them. They are preserving evidence. They are reporting fires they believe are suspicious,” Avery said Thursday.

On Monday, a brush fire that consumed about 80 acres of land in eastern Beaufort County and a brush fire near a church that was the site of suspected arson last month were deemed suspicious in nature, according to authorities.

A helicopter was used to help battle the blaze that closed Hawkins Beach Road for a time Monday and burned about 80 acres of land. Multiple fire departments were called in to fight the fire.

Firefighters with the Bath Volunteer Fire Department responded to a brush fire on South White Post Road, across from Christian Chapel Church of Christ, about 7 p.m. Monday. About two weeks ago, fire damaged the church’s kitchen.

Last week, a fire destroyed an abandoned barn and burned two acres of land South Boyd Road off U.S. Highway 264 near Bath was classified as arson.

That fire came just two days after firefighters battled five other suspicious fires, four in Beaufort County and one in Washington County.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

email author More by Mike