County firefighters responded twice in 10 hours to a blaze Hopkins County Fire Marshal’s Office initially thought could possibly be an arson fire, but upon close investigation has been ruled incidental.
A 25-year-old Sulphur Springs man was arrested by a deputy during the first firefight on unrelated misdemeanor charges of failure to identify and operating an unregistered vehicle on the roadway.
“The fire we believe was intentionally set, but we do not believe the house was intentionally burned,” said Hopkins County Fire Investigator Josh McCord, who investigated the blaze Tuesday. “We believe someone was clearing out the ditch, burning it. The fire hit the green grass and spread to the side of the house.”
Deputies were dispatched at 6:16 p.m. Monday and Hopkins County, Arbala, Miller Grove, Brinker and Cumby firefighters at 6:18 p.m. Monday to County Road 1173 at County Road 1209, where a caller said it appeared someone possibly burning off a ditch caught a house on fire. Fire units remained on scene for a few hours working the fire.
A sheriff’s deputy, upon arrival on scene, advised responding units that the north and south sides of a structure on the CR 1173 property were in flames. Moments after the report, a white male arrived on scene on a blue and white 2005 Yamaha YZ85 dirt bike, wanting to pass, the deputy noted on arrest reports.
When he asked the man for identifying information, the man gave him a name and date of birth for which a records check showed no records existed. The deputy placed the man into custody for operating the vehicle on the road and put the bike in the back of his patrol unit. Both the man and his motorcycle were transported to the sheriff’s office, where, upon arrival, it was determined the man had given a false name and different date of birth. He was then positively identified by different first and middle names, and a date of birth that showed him to be four years older than he’d originally claimed. Consequently, he was arrested for failure to identify as well, according to arrest reports.
Hopkins County, Cumby, Arbala, Miller Grove and Brinker firefighters and deputies were sent back to the location at 3:49 a.m. Tuesday, after dispatchers received a 911 call reporting the CR 1173 blaze had rekindled and the house was this time fully engulfed in flames.
McCord said it’s likely embers burning inside the walls of house embers were undetected due to its construction, and eventually reignited into flames. While firefighters have thermal imagers to detection hot spots by heat levels within walls and ceilings, it’s likely the construction inside the walls and frame of the home made it very difficult for even an image to pickup the heat source.
Fire investigators late Tuesday morning said the blaze was being handled as an arson case. Initial investigation revealed what was believed to be an incendiary device in the unoccupied structure, which contained belongings but where no one had resided for a period of time, according to fire reports Tuesday.
McCord said firefighters said the item was collected as a potential incendiary device. However, after closer inspection of the item and the area where it was collected, he was able to rule it out as an incendiary device. Based on the burn examination of the burn patterns and site, the house fire is also being ruled incidental, a result of the ditch fire growing out of control.
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