Gautier Police work to solve apartment fire mystery

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - How did an apartment in Gautier catch fire and why didn't the people inside call 911? Investigators are working to solve this mystery but haven't had much luck. They're now calling on the community to help solve this case.

Small pieces of crime tape now adorn the door of this Belle Ville apartment, where a fire broke out three days ago. Gautier Police Sergeant Matt Hoggatt and Fire Chief Ray Frair said a man and woman were inside when it happened. The woman was severely burned all over her body.

"There was more damage to the individuals clothing that was being worn, than  to the structure itself. There is a little stuff here and there and there is damage to a piece furniture," Friar said about the apartment.

"Her boyfriend as well didn't sustain any injures during the fire," Hoggatt said.

Police and firefighters said they didn't find out about the fire until Singing River hospital called about the woman's injuries. Now they're trying to figure out why?

"Some of the things we are looking at is, was it an accidental fire, it could have an intentional act. An act of assault," Hoggatt said. "It could have been some type of drug explosion, or simply an act of arson, those are the questions we hope to answer."

So far, investigators have asked questions of neighbors and the man in the apartment that night, plus they've collected lots of evidence. Still, they admit it has been challenging solving this mystery.

"We are not releasing any statements that anybody has made, witness statements or people who were present at the crime at this point, but it is unfortunate," Hoggatt said.

Gautier investigators said another piece of this puzzle that is still missing is the woman who was burned inside the apartment. She is still in the hospital in critical condition, so they have not been able to interview her.

"Anytime we have a situation like this, especially a severely burned victim, who in her case, that is not able to speak. We have talked to the many people out here and we will continue to do that until we feel confident on what happened."

The woman burned in the fire is at the University of South Alabama Burn Center and police said she has burns on 75 percent of her body. Gautier Police are encouraging anyone with information to call 228- 497-2486 or the Mississippi Coast Crime-Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898.

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