Local News

String Of Hoke Fires Prompts State Assistance

Posted March 1, 2006 6:18 a.m. EST

— A rash of fires in one area is sparking investigators to get help.

Hoke County detectives only have one arson investigator, so they're teaming up with the State Bureau of Investigation and prosecutors to form an arson task force.

"Before (the investigator) could investigate one and get it done, we had another one, and then another one, and then another one," said Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin.

Hoke County has had more than 30 fires in the last 12 months. Authorities think people set them on purpose and that some are related.

One of the most recent ones happened on Northwoods Drive. The fire broke out in the middle of the night. The family was home, but everyone inside the home got out.

Seanna Mabry lives next door and knows the victims.

"They were a little petrified," said Mabry.

Others came upon the scene along Hobson Road and Oregon Trail, also in the eastern part of the county.

"I (saw) the blaze from around the corner," said neighbor Chris Betha. "I came over. It was a big blaze."

So far, no one has been hurt in the fires, but area residents, like Mabry, are startled.

"It makes you a little uneasy, because this is a pretty good neighborhood," said Mabry.

Investigators say they have suspects, but aren't ready to file charges. They plan to offer a reward for more information.