Investigators eye possible burglary, arson in Boyd house fire

By Brandon Evans | Published Saturday, January 18, 2014

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A family lost their home and many of their belongings in a fire Wednesday morning in Boyd.

And investigators now believe the fire was possibly set on purpose in an attempt to cover up a burglary.

Canine Rescue

CANINE RESCUE – Derek Pellizzari, an EMT with Wise County EMS, comforts a dog rescued from a house fire in Boyd Wednesday morning. Investigators suspect an arsonist started the fire to cover up a burglary. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

“It’s very suspicious,” said Wise County Fire Marshal Chuck Beard. “At this point it looks like an arson fire that was set to cover up a burglary. But we don’t know that for sure. We’re waiting for lab results to tell us what, if any, type of accelerant was used.”

The fire was reported just after 10 a.m. when an off-duty sheriff’s deputy driving past the home, located in the 100 block of Smith Street, noticed smoke billowing from the roof.

Wise County medics, Boyd police and firefighters from Boyd, Newark, Cottondale and Rhome all responded. Rescue workers were able to quickly extinguish the fire and rescue three dogs, including one that was inside, but it was too late to save the home.

“There was extensive damage all through the house,” Beard said. “A lot of smoke and water damage. It’s going to be a total loss.”

Where Theres Smoke

WHERE THERE’S SMOKE … – A member of the Cottondale Volunteer Fire Department fights to put out a fire in the attic of a home in Boyd Wednesday. Despite a quick response, the home was a total loss. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The fire had burned throughout the entire attic and in two rooms. The smoke and heat damage was very severe throughout the rest of the house.

Homeowner Shelly Rodgers lives there with her teenage son. Neither were home when the fire started.

“It looks like someone broke in through the front door,” said Boyd Police Chief Greg Arrington. “Some items are missing from the house. My gut feeling is that it’s a burglary. I can’t confirm there was arson until results come back from the lab.”

Stolen goods include several electronic items. Police are in the process of interviewing several people.

If arson proves to be the cause of the fire, the suspect faces a first-degree felony arson charge carrying a 5- to 99-year prison sentence.

Rodgers’ brick home was built in 2003 and is valued at more than $141,000 according to the Wise County Tax Appraisal District.

Arrington and his department have experience tracking down arsonists.

James E. Haynes, 31, and his nephew Charles Haynes III, 21, were both convicted of arson with intent to damage a habitation or place of worship, a first-degree felony. The pair burglarized a home in July 2011 in the 500 block of Green Meadow Drive in Boyd. They then set fire to the residence in an attempt to cover their tracks. Both received 10 years deferred adjudication and were forced to pay restitution.

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