Suspicious house fires hit Apex neighborhood
Posted June 6, 2010 7:02 a.m. EDT
Updated September 24, 2010 9:51 p.m. EDT
Apex, N.C. — Apex authorities are re-opening the unsolved cases of three suspicious house fires after two more homes within a block of each other caught fire early Sunday.
Fire Chief Mark Haraway said the homes in the Reserve at Whitehall neighborhood, off Olive Chapel Road and Apex Peakway, were the fourth and fifth vacant homes in Apex to catch fire in the past 15 months.
A house on Saint Emilion Court was burned to the ground and a home on Bexley Hills Bend was severely damaged.
"It was just incredible to see the scale of a raging fire and then turn and see the scale of the other raging fire," Whitehall resident Steve Hollar said.
Neither house was hooked up to utilities, so it's doubtful the fires were started by accident, Haraway said. The cases haven't been labeled as arson, though, because so far, investigators have not uncovered evidence of malicious intent.
"I would rather say that this a suspicious fire, a human-hands fire at this point," Haraway said.
The Bexley Hills Bend house was vacant and for sale. The Saint Emilion Court home was under construction and entered in the fall's Parade of Homes. Both houses were insured.
The State Bureau of Investigation and Wake County fire marshal were assisting the investigation.
Hollar said he called 911 after the crackle of fire woke him and his wife up around 2:30 a.m.
"We heard the popping sound, and we're going, 'What's is that hitting the house?'" he said. "We saw a nice orange glow when we looked out, and we saw this whole house here, the whole top was engulfed in flames."
Firefighters at a nearby station responded quickly, but the houses were already fully involved when they arrived, Haraway said. Crews from Apex and Morrisville helped bring the blazes under control in about 45 minutes. No one was injured.
Residents said their concern is for their neighborhood.
"That's probably by biggest concern now that everyone's safe – making sure this neighborhood comes back and is enjoyable in a great location," Hollar said.
A representative for Apex-based BRG Builders, which owns the houses, said the Reserves at Whitehall has more than 200 lots, with about 45 left to sell and build. Haraway said the neighborhood is stable and sales are steady.
Three of the other suspicious fires at vacant houses happened in neighborhoods within two miles of Sunday's fires – one in the Chapel Ridge Road neighborhood and two in the Olive Chapel Park subdivision, formerly known as L'Hermitage at Beaver Creek.
In February, police offered a $10,000 reward for tips leading to an arrest and conviction in those cases.
"Bottom line, we want to come to a resolution in this situation," Haraway said.
"We hope that this is the end of it," Hollar said.
Locations of Apex suspicious fires