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Arson warrant issued

AHOSKIE – Following a thorough investigation, the Ahoskie Police Department is seeking a local woman in connection with a recent string of suspicious fires.

Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh said that Brittany Janesa Smith is wanted on an outstanding warrant for felony arson. Smith, believed to be 23 or 24 years of age, has apparently left her residence.

Brittany J. Smith

“We’ve constantly checked, without success, to see if she was at her residence,” Fitzhugh said. “The info we have leads us to believe that she has left that location. We’re still looking at this time and any info on her whereabouts will be greatly appreciated.”

He added that her appearance may be altered due to a recent incident.

Those with information concerning Smith are urged to contact APD Captain Michele Garrett or Detective Sgt. Stephen White at 332-5011.

Fitzhugh said that one vehicle and a home were the two worst cases of an alleged arsonist, both occurring on Aug. 14.  He stated that gas was apparently poured over a portion of a vehicle parked in a driveway of a residence in the 700 block of North Maple Street.

“The gas was ignited and burned the vehicle from its rear tires to the back bumper,” Fitzhugh said.  “The vehicle was pretty much a total loss.”

As the APD officer investigating the vehicle fire was wrapping up, he received a second call to respond to a report of a residential fire in the 200 block of West Hayes Street.

“Upon his arrival, the fire department had extinguished a gas can found burning on the sidewalk,” Fitzhugh said. “We then discovered burn marks on one side of the residence. There appeared to be gas splashed on the side of the house and an attempt made to light it.”

The most serious of the fires took place late in the morning of Aug. 14 where an occupied residence in the 500 block of North Catherine Street was damaged. Upon arrival of emergency responders, the back side of the home was on fire. While the occupants were able to make their way to safety and escape injury, firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the blaze.

One day later (Wednesday, Aug. 15) an attempt was made to set fire to a residence in the 400 block of North Mitchell Street. Fitzhugh said a passerby noticed the fire and extinguished it prior to the arrival of the fire department.

Two additional cases were reported on Tuesday of last week – a gas jug found burning in the driveway of a residence in the 500 block of Colony Ave. near Church Street, and articles of clothing on fire in the middle of the intersection of Pine and Alton streets.

Fitzhugh said the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office assisted his department with the investigation of the arson cases.

“K-9 Officer Deputy Helms was very helpful. We wished to thank him for his assistance,” Fitzhugh stated.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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