Two fires in Harrison County may be arson, investigation continues

Two fires in Harrison County may be arson, investigation continues
A beam of a house on East Wortham Road destroyed by fire smolders on Wednesday, after it burned on Tuesday. (Source: John Fitzhugh)

HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Harrison County has some of the state’s best fire investigators, and this week they have had two cases that have given them a lot to look at.

A house fire on East Wortham Road destroyed a single-story home Thursday, with fire crews taking an hour to put out the massive flames.

“When you have a fire there’s always evidence of what happened, and if somebody interacted in such as arson they’re always leaving clues, and in these two fires we believe the evidence shows us that these fires were probably started by a person,” said Harrison County Fire Marshal Pat Sullivan.

Later that afternoon, a mobile home fire was reported on McGuire Drive, which endangered another trailer nearby.

“Just because we have a fire, that doesn’t burn up all the evidence. That doesn’t burn up the fact that there was an arson, that doesn’t burn up the fact that there was a crime,” Sullivan said.

No injuries were reported in either incident.

“There’s a lot of motives for arson, and they may not always be obvious. It takes a lot of investigation, it takes a lot of interviewing, and it takes a lot of police work,” Sullivan said.

Harrison County fire and sheriff’s investigators are working hand-in-hand on the two cases. The state fire marshal only gets involved if there is a death or there is a large value property damaged.

“A lot of times people think that a person connected to the property is an automatic, that they had something to do with it. There are a lot of times that the person who owned the property is a victim of the arsonist,” Sullivan said.

The state fire marshal spends most of his time helping in more rural areas with fewer resources.

Sullivan said they do not yet know if there is any connection between the two fires.

“The people that own the property didn’t set the fire. It may have been that for other reasons, other people were involved in it, and those are the things that we have to investigate. Those people are victims and we’re trying to determine who burned their property and why their property was burned,” Sullivan said.

If you have any information on the fires call the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department at 228-897-1364.

“Help from the public is invaluable in determining who the suspect may be, why the property may have burned. There’s a lot of people who may have a lot of information that they may not realize that they have, such as seeing somebody in the area, of a vehicle on the property that they’re not used to seeing. Just one thing or another that causes us to believe that it may be arson and to connect the fact that is was arson and who may be responsible for it,” Sullivan said.

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