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Authorities Investigate Suspicious Mobile Home Fires In Johnston County

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JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. — Officials call three fires that broke out within hours of each other at a Clayton mobile home park community suspicious.

The fires happened late Wednesday and early Thursday at the Alta mobile home community, formerly known as Port-o-Pines, on Highway 42 West.

"[They happened] back-to-back -- the three locations were in the same mobile home park," Clayton fire chief Lee Barbee said.

The first fire was reported at 8:52 p.m. Wednesday at the Alta office.

"We got it under control and while we were doing our investigation, we were notified of a second mobile home in the mobile home park here at 11:38 p.m.," Barbee said.

The second fire was in a vacant mobile home, as was the third -- which was reported at 12:20 a.m. All three structures are considered a total loss.

Authorities said the mobile home park had its problems with crime in the past. The crime was so bad that the police department filed a public nuisance lawsuit. He said that things had gotten better in recent weeks.

The Johnston County fire marshal and the State Bureau of Investigation have not yet determined a cause, but some residents have their own theories.

"I think, maybe, somebody in that building evicted somebody and they were upset and they took it out on the trailers," witness Eric Hodges said.

The son of the mobile home park owner believed the latest blazes were connected to another series of recent fires that occurred in the area.

"These three [fires] are possibly related, but are not related to the previous ones at this point," Barbee said. "It's my opinion at this time that these fires do not have any resemblance to the other fires."

Two of four recent business fires in Clayton were ruled accidental; two are considered suspicious and remain under investigation.

In all seven fires, no one was inside the structures and all occurred within miles of each other in Clayton.


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