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2014-03-20

House fires in Wharton's Dock area not related

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

A pair of purportedly unrelated structure fires occurred recently in the Wharton's Dock area, according to Bandera Fire Marshal John Stith.
The first call came in to emergency dispatch at 1:11 am, Wednesday, March 12. When first responders arrived at the fire on Wharton's Dock Road, it appeared that a vehicle fire had spread to a mobile home. Both the vehicle and the home were totally destroyed by the blaze.
According to Stith, occupants in the mobile home had to escape the burning building by kicking out a window. The pair suffered minor cuts and bruises, but refused EMS transport. The occupants were awakened by smoke detectors. After exiting the mobile home, they called 9-1-1 at a neighbor's house.
Volunteer fire departments responding to the fire included Bandera, Pipe Creek, Lakeshore and Castle Lake. The fire was extinguished at approximately 4 am.
Although the investigation is still in the preliminary stage, certain evidence collected at the scene indicates that the vehicle fire might have been set deliberately, Stith said. "CID investigators from the sheriff's department and I are aggressively investigating this fire," he said.
At 1:55 pm on March 12, a report of a second structure fire came in from the Wharton's Dock area. Initially, this call was thought to be a re-kindling of the earlier fire; however, it was quickly determined that the current call was for a second mobile home fire - this one on Oak Lawn.
When fire departments from Bandera, Lakeshore and Pipe Creek arrived, firefighters found a second mobile home engulfed in flames.
The occupant of the mobile home was not at home at the time of the fire.
According to Stith, the preliminary investigation on the second fire has identified the origin of the blaze, but not the cause as yet.
And, despite the coincidental nature of the fires, Stith said they do not appear to be related. "This is not a case where someone is lighting up this area," he said in an interview on Tuesday, March 18. "However, in the case of the first fire, we're not ruling out possible retaliation by an unknown person."
Stith continued, "People in this area have expressed a lot of concern and we're still looking at every possible connection, but as yet, there is none evident."
He urged anyone with information about the recent house fires to call his office at 830-460-8183. "Sometimes these incidents are solved by people who are willing to speak up," Stith said.