Suspicious fire may be retaliation for knife attack
A few pieces of charred debris on the kitchen floor and a small smoke stain on one of the walls were all that remained from the fire
VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -
Both the Valdosta fire and police departments were still investigating Tuesday the early Monday morning suspicious fire at 509 E. Hill Ave. and were not officially calling it an arson as of Tuesday afternoon, but said the evidence points in that direction.
The Valdosta Police Department was also investigating whether the fire and a knife attack at the same location on July 17th were connected.
Joe Samuels lives in one of the rooms in 509 E. Hill Ave. with his children. Samuels was the one who put out the fire. "It started from down there," Samuels said, as he stood in the kitchen looking down at the spot on the floor next to the back door where the fire started. "This black bag was hanging right there."
Samuels was asleep with his children around 1 a.m. Monday when the smoke alarm went off. He got up and noticed that a trash bag in the kitchen was on fire.
"When I came out the room, it was just the flames coming up from out the bag. So, then I came out the room and I put the fire out." He filled a pot with water and poured it on the fire to douse the flames.
He said the fire was started by a moltav cocktail type device placed underneath the trash bag. Valdosta Fire Marshal Cpt. James Clinkscales said after talking to police, that appeared to be the case.
"It was a substance, a bottle, with a wick that was to it," Cpt. Clinkscales explained. "It's still under investigation whether the fire was initially inside or outside of the structure."
On Friday morning, July 17th, three people were arguing inside the home and one person threw a knife, missing the intended target and hitting another person instead.
That person was cut on the leg and Valdosta Police Department Cpt. Bobbi McGraw said the fire may be retaliation.
"Information that detectives have gotten is there was some type of unfinished business or people that were not happy with the outcome of the dispute," said McGraw.
Cpt. McGraw added that, as of Tuesday afternoon, it was still not clear exactly what the argument was about on Friday.
No arrests had been made as of Tuesday afternoon, but Cpt. McGraw said investigators had conducted several interviews and did have some persons of interest regarding the fire.