HUSTONVILLE — The owner of a flower shop that caught fire Saturday has admitted he set the fire himself and has now been hospitalized.
Troy Hafley, owner of Hafley Florist and Gift Shoppe, is in critical condition this morning at Ephraim McDowell Regional Regional Medical Center, said hospital spokesman Jeremy Cocanougher.
State Trooper Paul Blanton said Hafley told an investigator from his insurance company that he started the fire in the attic of his Main Street business late Saturday afternoon. The fire caused only minor damage to the rear of the store before it was extinguished by firefighters.
KSP arson investigator Pat Alford was scheduled to interview Hafley on Wednesday but was unable to because Hafley was hospitalized, Blanton said.
“He did something to put himself in the hospital,” Blanton said today, declining to elaborate.
In a story in this week’s Interior Journal, editor Michael Broihier reports that Hafley also admitted to him that he started the fire. Hafley indicated his business was struggling and that he was upset with Hustonville Mayor Cecil Maddox and the City Council for their failure to address concerns about the city’s fire department, the newspaper reported.
“I really didn’t think, and times are tough,” Hafley told Broihier. “I thought it would be a good chance to teach a few people a lesson. I had a cigarette in my hand, puffed on it a few times and put it up where the insulation was.”
Hafley told Advocate-Messenger reporter Joanna King on Saturday that he believed the fire was kindled by sparks created by workmen who had removed a large range hood from the attic earlier in the day. He told Broihier, however, that he saw the presence of the workmen as an opportunity to make the fire look like an accident.
According to The Interior Journal, Hustonville Police Chief Fred McCoy said Hafley told him he’d closed his shop at 2:20 p.m. Saturday and did not return until after the fire was called in. An eyewitness, however, told McCoy he’d seen Hafley leaving the shop about 4:15.
McCoy looked at video surveillance tape from the First Southern National Bank branch in Hustonville, and it showed Hafley leaving his shop at 2:20 as he said, but the tape also showed Hafley returning to the shop after 4 p.m, the paper reported.
McCoy said Hafley was in the shop for 2 1/2 minutes and then left in his vehicle. “Seven minutes later, you can see the guys at the (adjacent) gas station running around and moving vehicles away from the building,” McCoy said.
Hafley has been an outspoken critic of Maddox and the City Council since former fire chief Stanley Shepperson was fired in November. Hafley stormed out of a December council meeting after questions concerning the fire department’s ability to protect the public were not answered.
“I’m going to sell my (expletive deleted) and get the hell out of here is what I’m going to do,” Hafley told a reporter after that meeting.