SMITHFIELD — Johnston County law officers are investigating an early morning fire that left a family homeless. They are checking whether the fire may have been set in retaliation for another crime.
Investigators believe the fire that raced through a house in Johnston County early Sunday morning may have been the work of an arsonist.
Volunteer firefighters battled the blaze that broke out just across the county line from Zebulon.
When the fire was out, Alice Holder and her three children were homeless.
She says the fire was set by people she knows -- people who thinks her son stole from them.
"I've been having problems since Friday," Holder said, "and they've been communicating threats since Wednesday."
The Holder family was asleep at about 4 a.m. Sunday when they heard a car outside, and then a knock at the door.
A few minutes later the house was engulfed in flames. But Alice Holder says the trouble began a few days ago, when she started receiving threats.
"She said 'Y'all are protecting thieves and I'm not going to be responsible if they take laws into their own damn hands until they got the property back,'" Holder recounted.
Holder claims someone broke into her home on Friday and tossed some things around, apparently looking for something.
Johnston County investigators are looking into the allegations.
They've labeled the fire at Holder's home suspicious.
No arrests have been made in connection with the fire.