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Kannapolis house fire called suspicious

By Joanie Morris and Scott Jenkins

Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — Authorities are calling a fire that destroyed a house Thursday morning at 2804 Glendale Ave. suspicious.

Resident Twiggie Bell told investigators that she believed the fire started in a middle bedroom, but Kannapolis Fire Department Inspector Shane Pethel said it appeared to have started in the living room at the front of the house.

Pethel said that while the blaze remains under investigation and a cause has not been determined, there appears to be no way it could have started accidentally.

“It’s suspicious because there was no reason for the fire to be there,” Pethel said. “There was no power, no utilities and the occupant was moving out.”

Pethel said Bell told investigators her daughter had just left the house with some furniture and she was on the front porch when she noticed fire inside the house. When firefighters arrived, smoke and flames were coming out the front door, he said.

Landis firefighters responding as mutual aid arrived first because the house is closer to their station, Pethel said. In all, about 20 firefighters responded initially and had the fire out within 20 minutes. Investigators and some firefighters remained on the scene for several hours.

The house was a total loss, Pethel said. He estimated the damages at $40,000. Heat from the fire damaged a neighbor’s home also, melting siding on a house 20-30 feet away.

No one was injured in the fire, Pethel said. Police are also involved in the investigation.

Tony Cline, code administrator for the city of Kannapolis, said the house is familiar to his office. The owner, Joan Jeffries, lives in New Rochelle, N.Y. Earlier this year, another home owned by the same person was demolished by the city. That home stood right next to the home that burned Wednesday.

In addition, the tenant of the home that burned had contacted code enforcement about getting a possible inspection of the home.

“In the last six months to a year, she had the social worker in Rowan County call and ask us if we’d inspect it,” Cline said outside the burned remains of the home on Glendale Avenue.

The air still retained the acrid smell of smoke late Thursday afternoon. While still standing, the home will most likely have to be demolished. Doors and windows were broken out all over and the entire front of the house — from the front steps into the attic — was charred ashes.

Cline said an inspection of the house before the fire probably would have foound it lacking. “I think the tenant was probably not aware that it (an inspection) would result in demolition.”

Cline speculated that when the tenant found out, she changed her mind about the inspection, because he never heard back from the social worker or tenant of the home. From his understanding, the tenant was living in the house for free.

“I’m anxious to hear what happened, but I’m not real surprised,” said Cline.

Contact Joanie Morris at 704-932-3336 or jmorris@salisburypost.com.

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