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Eastpoint fires likely not due to foul play

David Adlerstein
The Apalach Times
The Apalach Times

A pair of fires last week in Eastpoint appear to be both accidents, and not due to foul play.

On July 28, a fire on Washington Street in the early afternoon completely consumed a residence, after those inside were able to escape without injuries.

The Eastpoint, St. George Island and Apalachicola Volunteer Fire Departments responded quickly, and while they were unable to save the structure, they prevented any further spread.

“It was already rolling,” said Eastpoint Chief George Pruett. “I don’t think there was power to that building.”

Between the three departments it took an estimated two to three hours to fully extinguish.

Sheriff A.J. Smith said a preliminary investigation by the state fire marshal’s office indicated the fire in the aging structure was an accident. He said there was no evidence of the source being a meth lab.

“When it’s been fully involved, it’s very hard to determine the origin,” Pruett said. “The state fire marshal said it was inconclusive.”

On Friday, at a location on U.S. 98 between Barber’s Seafood and the Petro Gas station, a fire broke out in the early afternoon, also shutting down the road.

The three fire departments were able to get the fire under control, and no one was harmed.

Several comments online have indicated the location was the site of Bell and Dibby Buchanan's old store and gas station, adjacent to a former trailer park. The property is now owned by investors out of Danville, Arkansas.

Electricity was not hooked up at the time of the fire, so that possible cause has been ruled out. Smith said several homeless people were known to seek shelter there. He said the fire likely was an accident, and he dismissed rumors that it was caused by a meth lab explosion or was deliberately set.

Pruett said the building had been secured with plywood in the front, but people had gained access.

“After the roof collapsed, it turns into an oven,” he said. “Without a tractor to pull the roof apart, it was very hard to extinguish. We went back six or seven times over the next two days.”