Claud Road fire determined to be arsonPublished 3:00pm Thursday, November 7, 2013
Eclectic Fire Chief Adam Graham confirmed Thursday morning what a Claud Road resident believed from the beginning. The fire that destroyed Vanessa Freeman’s home in the wee hours of Saturday morning was set intentionally.
Graham said the test samples came back to confirm that an arsonist set the fire. Freeman woke up soon enough to get herself, her two children and two other friends out of the home on the 900 block of Claud Road out safely. But firefighters were unable to save the historic home thought to be among Eclectic’s oldest.
The state fire marshal’s office has been investigating the site of the blaze since Saturday morning. Samples they examined tested positive, confirming that an accelerant was used to set the blaze.
State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk said Thursday afternoon that they “determined the fire is an arson case and have begun an active criminal investigation” of first-degree arson because the home was occupied.
Freeman said the way the fire started and tore through the home seemed suspicious.
“It started on the outside, not on the inside,” she said Thursday. “And there was nothing on the back side of the house that would cause it to catch on fire.”
Freeman said she woke to see smoke on the floor throughout the house just after 2 a.m. Saturday. By the time firefighters reached the scene, flames towered into the night sky and the house was “fully involved,” Graham said.
Freeman and her 10-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter, as well as two adult friends, evacuated safely.
Members of the Eclectic Fire Department are collecting clothes for the family. Donations are being accepted at the Eclectic Police Department, 145 Main Street.
Freeman posted that the family’s sizes were the following:
Son is in a size 12 pants, youth medium shirt and size 8 shoes.
Daughter is a size 8 juniors in pants, adult small top and size 9 shoes.
Mother is in a size 12 pants large to X-large top and 10 1/2 shoes.
Father is 38 in pants large or X-large shirt and size 11 shoes.
Freeman said she’s already received a few items, which have helped tremendously.
“I just want to know that everything we’ve received from people is greatly appreciated,” she said Thursday.
It’s been a busy few days for Eclectic emergency personnel. Friday morning they responded to a fire around 9 a.m. near the intersection of Culpepper and Double Bridge Ferry roads. That blaze was determined to have started from the improper disposal of ashes, Graham said.
Then there was the blaze on Claud Road.
And Wednesday morning around 7 a.m., the EFD was summoned to the 2400 block of North Ann Street, where they fought a fire at a double-wide manufactured home. Graham said the rear half of the structure was heavily damaged, while the front portion received smoke damage.
Kevin Taylor contributed to this report.