Fayetteville, N.C. — The developer of three houses that were destroyed over the weekend by fires authorities have called suspicious has not been seen in recent days.
State Bureau of Investigation agents said in a search warrant that fires at three houses on Rivercliff Road were intentionally set early Saturday. Two homes were next to each other on a cul-de-sac overlooking the Cape Fear River, while the third was down the street.
"I was running down the street and was ringing everybody's doorbell, trying to get them out of their houses," said neighbor Cindy Caldwell, who was awakened by a phone call alerting her to the fires.
The new, two-story houses were unoccupied, and no one was injured in the fires, authorities said. The flames from one of the destroyed houses melted some of the vinyl siding off an adjacent home that is occupied.
Fayetteville police and the SBI arson team were investigating the fires, but have released few details of the case.
Robert Gore, the contractor who owns the three houses, lives on Rivercliff Road but has not been seen since Friday, neighbors said.
"He's home all the time. He's running up and down the street, probably 15 or 20 times a day," Caldwell said.
Gore's phone has been disconnected.
Court records show that Gore has been sued several times for not paying contractors and suppliers. Caldwell said she and her neighbors have had numerous problems with him.
"He's had a lot of people to sue him because of his houses," she said. "He hasn't followed through with anything he's done for the houses. He builds them, then as soon as he closes, he never finishes anything that's on anybody's punch list."