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Fire investigator: Phifer Road fire intentionally set; no motive determined

CLEVELAND — Fire investigators say an early Wednesday morning fire on Phifer Road was intentionally set, but they don’t know who is responsible.

The fire happened about the same time as a second blaze about four miles away on Phifer Lane in Iredell County.

Rowan and Iredell county investigators are looking into the fires, which officials said appear similar.

Both fires — one at 640 Phifer Road in Cleveland and one at 193 Phifer Lane in Statewville — were reported just before 4 a.m. Wednesday.

No one lived at the Statesville home.

According to Rowan County Fire Investigator Mark Troublefield, the Rowan County home was under construction, with the owner set to move in in a few weeks.

“We think it was set. We don’t know who, how or when,” Troublefield said.

He said investigators are not sure the two fires are linked, but they have ruled out an electrical cause at the Rowan home. No one was at the home at the time, and the house did not have power.

Rowan investigators have turned over all their findings to an insurance investigator, and evidence was sent for testing.

“It’s extremely unusual for them to be that close in proximity at the same time and kind of the same circumstances,” said Capt. John Sifford of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.

Troublefield said the cause of a fire earlier this week at a China Grove home remains undetermined. Firefighters responded to 5335 W. N.C. 152 on Wednesday after a garage caught fire. No one was home. The three-alarm fire was called in by a neighbor.

When firefighters arrived, the three-bay garage was engulfed. The fire was contained to the garage. The home had smoke and water damage.

“I can’t pinpoint it to one single thing,” Troublefield said.

The resident has been in an assisted living facility for several months, he said.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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