FORT SMITH (KFSM) – Authorities are investigating after three buildings burned in a “suspicious fire” in Fort Smith early Wednesday morning (Aug. 27). It was the second time in one week that a fire had sparked at one of the houses, according to Battalion Chief Tery Graves.
Crews were dispatched to a fire at a vacant home on Russell Street, just off Midland Avenue, in Fort Smith just before 12:15 a.m.
“When we got on scene, the fire was just shooting out of the roof,” Graves said. “The flames were about 20 feet high at that point.”
The fire had spread to a car port, and had caught the house next door on fire as well.
Two Hispanic men, Alonzo Dagoberto and his friend Hipolito Tovar-Ramirez, were asleep inside the home when the house caught fire.
5NEWS did talk with the two men about what happened. Firefighter Reed Whitson translated what Dagoberto had to say.
“[Dagoberto] says he woke up to use the bathroom and says he saw the fire from the window, and then went and woke up his friend over here and they got out of the house,” Whitson said.
Dagoberto went on to say that it was a very scary situation for him. He said he lost almost everything he owned in the fire. Dagoberto was renting the property, and says he did not have any sort of renter’s insurance.
The Red Cross arrived on scene, and took both men somewhere where they could stay for the rest of the night, as Fire Marshal Carey St. Cyr continued to investigate what caused the fire to spark.
Crews said this is the second time in just one week that the vacant house caught fire.
“It’s very suspicious,” Graves said. “We’ve got the Fire Marshal out here checking it out. We were out at this address a week ago for a little, small fire in a closet. It was also suspicious in nature.”
Crews were able to keep the fire last Wednesday (Aug. 20) from spreading.
St. Cyr took photos and collected evidence from the scene, and said he will be sending it to the state crime lab for further examination. Until then, St. Cyr said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
“That’s two suspicious fires here in just one week,” St. Cyr said.
The landlord of the homes that burned has been in contact with Fort Smith Fire and Police. He does not live in the area, according to crews on site.
Fort Smith Fire, Police and EMS were all on scene while crews worked to get the fire put out.