Arson Considered a Possibility

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – Several recent fires in the city of Crockett are now under investigation by the Crockett Fire Department and Crockett Fire Marshal Chris JIminez.

During a city council meeting held on June 4, Crockett Fire Chief Jason Frizzell addressed the matter.

“We are concerned someone is setting fires on Cottonwood Street. We have a reward now. It’s in our budget to give $1,000 for information leading to an arrest. We have gotten a couple of calls and Chris, the Fire Marshal, will be following up on those,” Frizzell said.

He added he had personally driven around the neighborhood at night to see what he could find out, but added he had met with limited success.

“We really need the citizens to be our eyes because they see stuff we don’t,” the fire chief said.

JIminez was also contacted and provided further information on the spate of the recent fires in Crockett.

“It actually happened on May 18. It happened about 2:50 a.m. It was a suspicious fire. The house didn’t have any electricity or water, power or anything. It was just a vacant house and there was no reason for it to ignite. This was a house the next block over from the Hy-Top Club,” he said.

“The club and those two houses – the first fire happened on March 14 at about 12 a.m.,” he continued. “Again, this was a vacant house with no power and no electricity. It was falling in on itself. The house ignited and radiant heat spread over to the Hy-Top Club which caught the side of the club on fire. Our crews put it out.”

Jiminez said while the fire was suspicious in nature, he was currently unable to prove anything conclusively.

“I can’t prove that it was arson. I can’t prove that it was incendiary. So, I have to rule it undetermined until more evidence comes up,” the fire marshal explained.

On April 19, Jiminez indicated a house on the other side of the club caught on fire.

“This was about 2 a.m. but this time the house was not vacant. It had someone who stayed there, however, it did not have electricity or gas but it did have water. The homeowner was not at home. He was at work. The radiant heat caught the other side of the club on fire and burned the whole thing down,” he reported.

As he continued, Jiminez said the fires had all been roughly a month apart.

“These houses look like they are vacant or abandoned, but one of them wasn’t. This is five structures right next to each other on the 700 block and the 800 block of Cottonwood,” he said.

Jiminez explained he was looking into the possibility of arson and added the Crockett Police Department was assisting by patrolling the area more frequently “… especially around the two o’clock hour because there are several vacant structures on those blocks. As far as the investigation, I am handling that. I don’t have any rock-solid leads. I do have a few (leads), but I don’t have anything I can act on right now.”

Asked if there were any persons of interest in the structure fires, Jiminez replied he did not but added he had a few names he was looking at “… but nothing concrete.”

The fire marshal said the residents of Crockett could also help in finding out who or what is behind the fires.

“Be aware of people who aren’t normally there, especially if there are people poking around in some of the empty houses. Also, be aware if there are any vehicles sitting in front of empty houses. Be wary and if you see any suspicious vehicles, jot down the number and contact the fire marshal’s office. We are offering a $1,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest and conviction,” he said.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.