Reward offered for info leading to Gulfport arsonist

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A second suspicious fire in Gulfport over the weekend has the State Fire Marshal Arson Reward Program offering cash for information.

After Friday morning's house fire on 20th Street and 15th Avenue, investigators said they thought an arsonist was to blame. When that same home caught fire again on Sunday, the search for answers became even more urgent.

For Aritha Mills, seeing her family's home on fire twice in one week is painful and emotional.

"Disgusted, angry, mad and wondering how could somebody be so evil, so cruel to do this to people when they know they have kids," Mills said.

This time the fire started in Aritha's bedroom. Luckily, she wasn't at home this time. If she had been, she doesn't think she would have made it out.

"I know I would have been dead. They may have made it out, but the smoke probably would have taken them out."

Thanks to help from a group of volunteers, the family was actually scheduled to move back in to their house. But now, it's unlikely they'll ever return to the home.

"Before, I was able to salvage most of all of the clothes. Just the living room was basically all of the stuff messed up, but this time it's just awful."

Throughout the neighborhood there are various theories as to who is accountable. A relative of the Mills family shared her thoughts the day of the first fire.

"It's basically that it's animosity between two families," Vassie Burton said. "With my brother being robbed and things just went from there with accusations. They started saying things would happen and things just started happening out of the blue with our homes. It was my property first on 34th, and then these two over here."

Mills said she knows there are rough times ahead, but she's determined to remain strong.

"School will be starting in three weeks, so it's going to be rough, but we'll be alright. We'll make it," Mills said.

Again, the state fire marshal is offering a cash reward to anyone with information that leads to an arrest in this case. If you can help, call Crime Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898. You can also leave a tip online at

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