KINGS MOUNTAIN — A pair of suspicious fires that destroyed two trailer homes on Ky. 501 Sept. 21 are being investigated as arsons.
Lincoln County Fire Chief Danny Glass said the homes had just been fixed up by their owner, Kendall Johnson, who was preparing to rent them out.
"Both of them apparently caught fire the same morning, which is what makes it suspicious," Glass said.
There was no power running to either of the structures, making the fires even more unlikely to occur without instigation, he added.
Glass said by the time firefighters arrived on the scene before dawn, "one was pretty much gone" and the other one "we saved somewhat but it was pretty much gutted."
Kentucky State Police Arson Investigator Pat Alford said his investigation is "just getting started" but the circumstances point very clearly toward arson.
Johnson said he got a call from a neighbor who lives near the trailer homes early on the morning of the fires, telling him his single-wide home at the "back" of his property was on fire.
"When I got there, the double-wide in front was on fire, too," he said. "I really don't know what happened."
Alford said one of the homes burned down to the frame and the other was damaged so substantially that no samples could be taken to determine how the fires were started.
Johnson said he had put new vinyl siding and a roof on one of the trailers, hooked up a septic tank and made other improvements prior to letting his new tenants move in Oct. 1.
Now he has no homes for the tenants and he estimates he is out about $20,000.
"I don't know what to do. I'm scared if I put them out there again that whoever did it would be ornery enough to do it again," he said. "I didn't know I had any enemies."
Johnson said a $5,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest in the case.
Anyone with information about the fires can call the Kentucky State Police post in Richmond at (859) 623-2404.