Investigators eye fire at vacant Smithfield house
Authorities are investigating what appears to be the ninth uninhabitated home in the Clayton area to have been intentionally set on fire since last October.Posted — Updated
Smithfield Fire Chief Patrick Harris said that the fire at 609 Vermont St. was reported around 6:40 a.m. Heavy smoke was pouring from the roof when firefighters arrived.
Smithfield, Selma and Four Oaks firefighters responded and contained the fire to the roof and attic of the house, Harris said.
No one was injured. The owners of the house had recently moved out and put it up for sale.
Harris said that the fire marshal and Smithfield police detectives are looking into the possibility that the fire could be linked to other recent fires at vacant homes, but so far, no evidence suggests that. The cause of the fire on Vermont Street has not been determined.
Johnston County authorities are investigating two separate strings of arson cases – at least eight fires at uninhabited homes in the Clayton area since Halloween 2009 and 11 fires at barns and abandoned homes around Four Oaks and Betonville since February.