Deputies investigate fires

Published 8:50 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Sheriff’s Office is investigating a string of fires in recent days that may be the work of an arsonist.

Sheriff’s investigators combed through the remains of four buildings damaged or destroyed by fire, all on Tuesday afternoon.

At about 1:40 p.m. Tuesday, an abandoned house was discovered on fire across the street from 2467 Old Whigham Road, a short distance east of the road’s intersection with Whigham Dairy Road. Because 911 dispatchers were not sure whether the house on fire was located within Bainbridge city limits, Cpl. Nigel Hurst and other Bainbridge Public Safety officers responded to the scene to help Decatur County Fire and Rescue and volunteer firefighters from Blackjack and Climax. Fire and Rescue Chief Charlie McCann observed two burnt-up mattresses in the front of the unoccupied home.

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Firefighters had just finished up at the first fire at around 3 p.m. when two other fires were reported at about 3:30 p.m.

One was discovered by Bainbridge’s code enforcement officer as he drove down U.S. Highway 84 and saw dark smoke rising. Following the smoke led him into Rose Lawn Cemetery, where a storage shed was being consumed by fire.

At about the same time, a home was reported on fire at 267 Parrish Road, one of several roads that connect Old Whigham Road to Black Jack Road. Firefighters found heavy brown smoke pouring out of the house, which was also reported as unoccupied.

Shortly before 4 p.m., a fourth fire was discovered just around the corner at a property on Chapman Hall Road. The residence there had previously been destroyed by fire. On Tuesday, firefighters found only a small fire in a utility shed.

Sheriff’s investigators visited the scene of all four fires and were requesting the help of search dogs from Sneads, Fla., to look for clues at the Chapman Hall Road fire. Deputies said the four fires’ close proximity to each other was suspicious.

Deputies are also investigating a fire last Saturday afternoon at 2576 Old Whigham Road as a possible act of arson. It, too, was at an unoccupied home. Charcoal was found burning on top of a mattress located on the screen porch of the house.