Other Cornelius home fires could be linked to Tuesday’s blaze

by Josh Lanier

CORNELIUS – A fire that gutted a home in the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 31, has been ruled arson, and police have reopened investigations into other nearby fires.

The fire began at 10211 Meadow Crossing Lane around 1:30 a.m. when officials believe someone set ablaze pieces of debris on the home’s back porch. Flames quickly rushed through the vacant home and out of its roof. By the time firefighters were called by neighbors, the home was fully enveloped by fire, said Cornelius-Lemley Fire Rescue Chief Jim Barbee said. The home was too far-gone, he said, and firefighters tried to minimize damage to neighboring homes.

By the time the fire was out, the home – valued at about $100,000 – was destroyed and neighboring homes had $10,000 and $5,000 dollars in damages, mostly because of melted siding, Barbee said.

This is the second fire in two months to destroy one or more homes on that street and the third fire since December.

On April 8, two homes were destroyed and two others were damaged less than a block away after a fire started in a trashcan outside the home at 10250 Meadow Crossing Lane and quickly spread. Investigators originally said the blaze began after a mixture of cleaning chemicals in the trash can “spontaneously” burst into flames. No injuries were reported in that fire.

A wicker chair was set on fire in December at a 10524 Meadow Crossing Lane home. That fire was quickly put out before any serious damage was done to the home, fire officials said.

The Mecklenburg County Fire Marshal’s office is handling the investigation into the most recent blaze. A spokesman stopped short of saying the three fires are related but said investigators “are now looking into all the incidents on that street.”

Cornelius police are assisting fire investigators.

“We have three fires in five months on the same street,” Cornelius Police Lt. Jennifer Thompson said. “I would say it’s safe to say that’s suspicious.”

Police are soliciting information from residents about the fires.

Anyone with information in the fire should call Cornelius Police dispatch at 704-892-7773.

Residents should call 911 immediately if they see anything suspicious.