Local News

Sampson Authorities Search For Arsonist

Posted July 21, 2003

— Sampson County firefighters believe eight fires set in the past seven months were all set by a pyromaniac.

It is hard to tell what was in the home of Samuel Warren's grandfather. Although no one lived at the house, Warrens said it was full of antiques.

"There's a lot of sentimental value in there," Warren said.

The 100-year-old home in rural Sampson County burned down Sunday morning. Authorities say it is the eighth fire in the area in the past seven months.

Detectives believe the same person, someone in their late teens or early 20s, set all the fires. Authorities say all of the fires took place in abandoned homes and an accelerant was not used in any of them.

"It makes you think it's someone who wants to see the red lights, smoke, fire, flames," said Capt. Ricky Mattocks, of the Sampson County Sheriff's Office.

Most of the fires happened in January and February. Detectives have talked with a few suspects, but they have not made an arrest. After the interviews, the fire stopped until the past weekend when a house went up in smoke.

Several different volunteer fire departments responded to the fires. Investigators say it is possible someone connected with one of the departments is responsible.

Authorities say one of the homes was set on fire twice.

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