Homeless man charged in fire

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 12, 2007

AULANDER – An Aulander man stands charged following a fire that destroyed an abandoned house here Saturday.

Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan reported that McCoy Gatling, 45, was charged with breaking and entering and was jailed under a $1,000 secured bond. The Sheriff added that other charges are pending.

The fire was reported shortly past 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. Upon the 6:48 p.m. arrival by the Millennium Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD), the house was fully engulfed and the fire was entering the woods.

“I was en route to the station from Ahoskie and I could see the orange glow (from the fire) from NC 11,” Millennium Fire Chief Mike Vaughan said. “When we got on the scene the fire was too far involved to save the house. We did our best to prevent the fire from spreading too deep inside the woods.”

Vaughan summoned the Hertford County office of the NC Forest Service. He said as a precaution, a line was plowed around the fire.

In the meantime, Aulander Police Chief Jimmy Barmer was on the scene. He noticed a man, later identified as Gatling, exiting the woods and detained him until the arrival of Hertford County deputies.

“From what we were able to understand, the man (Gatling) said he had no where to live and was using this old house,” Vaughan said. “He said he placed some wood in a stove and fell asleep. When he woke up the house was on fire.”

The MVFD responded with four units and 17 firefighters. The Aulander Fire Department assisted with two units.

Vaughan said his department remained on the scene for a little over two hours.

Hertford County Deputy Brian Pearce was the arresting officer. HCSO Lt. Mike Stephenson and Chief Deputy Ronnie Stallings also responded to the scene.

Stanley Rawls owned the house. It was a total loss.