Neighbors on edge after fourth house burns
by Staff Writer
by Katie Orlando
CORNELIUS – The white-columned front porch of 10250 Meadow Crossing Lane still stands pristine, but through the empty front door frame is only destruction. A second fire blazed through the house just before 5 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, further damaging the side of the house next door and bringing Meadow Crossing Lane’s arson count to four.
Damages were totaled at $189,000 for the home belonging to Davidson College Presbyterian Pastor Ernest Jefferies. His neighbor’s home, at 10306 Meadow Crossing received about $5,000 in damages to vinyl siding that melted in the blaze.
An April fire severely damaged the Jefferies’ house and its neighbor to the left. Both houses were abandoned after the first blaze, which has since been ruled arson.
Construction crews already demolished the other house. A brick-and-cement foundation now lies in its place.
The remains of 10250 Meadow Crossing Lane was empty, dangerous and set to be demolished when another suspicious fire tore through it last weekend, Cornelius-Lemley Fire Rescue Chief Jim Barbee said.
“At this point, the fire is suspicious and under investigation by the Mecklenburg County Fire Marshall and Cornelius Police Department,” Barbee said.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, but it started inside, he said.
Cornelius Police Lt. Jennifer Thompson said investigators have several persons of interest but no specific suspects yet. They have been interviewing a number of those people, she said.
The front of 10250 Meadow Cross Lane is still intact, but the rest of the house is a crumbled pile of ash and rubble. Vinyl siding sways in the breeze off the front of the house. The siding on the house next door is warped and peeling again, just days after it was repaired from the last fire.
An empty Cornelius Police cruiser sits in the driveway, a chain-link fence blocks the lot from the road, and police have increased security in the neighborhood. But those efforts are doing little to calm neighbors’ fears after four fires in nine months.
“Everybody’s scared to death,” one neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “People just moved in across the street here and moved out two months later. We want them caught, want them prosecuted so we can move on.”
The question remains if is the same person behind all four fires: two attacks on the same house and three others on the same street in the past nine months.
“This fire is similar to the other fires on Meadow Crossing Lane, in that the case is suspicious, and that’s about the only similarity I can tell you right now,” Barbee said.
Across the street and three doors down, crews have just begun cleaning up the damage to 10211 Meadow Crossing Lane, the fourth arson victim on the street. A fire gutted this house May 31. The first suspected arson happened in December when someone set ablaze a wicker chair on the front porch of 10524 Meadow Crossing Lane. It was quickly extinguished.
While investigations continue, neighbors hope the damaged homes will be demolished quickly and not allowed to stand any longer, increasing the chances of another incident.
Police seek information
Anyone with any information about the recent spate of fires in the Meadow Crossing Lane area should contact the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-1363.
– Editor Josh Lanier contributed to this report