01/24/08 — Aycock Birthplace fire ruled 'suspicious'

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Aycock Birthplace fire ruled 'suspicious'

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on January 24, 2008 2:23 PM

Authorities suspect arson in an early Thursday morning fire that severely damaged the main building at the birthplace of Gov. Charles B. Aycock, the Sheriff's Office said.

Wayne County Sheriff's Office Capt. Tom Effler said that unknown suspects attempted to set fire to two buildings at the historic birthplace of the turn-of-the-century governor.

"(The main building) has structural damage, one building has mainly smoke damage," Effler said.

The captain said because the property is state owned, he asked for the assistance of the State Bureau of Investigation.

Deputies had returned to the scene on Thursday morning to continue evaluating the scene, Effler said.

Pikeville Fire Chief Wesley Wooten said that the Antioch Fire Department and the Fremont Fire Department offered assistance with water concerns and with manpower and equipment.

"They had got the fire under control, we had stopped all the spread of the fire around 4:20 (a.m.)," Wooten said.

The fire chief said initial guesses about damage to the buildings were $100,000, but more precise estimates of the damage would become available later today.

Wooten said when circumstances of a fire "just don't add up," they call in investigators including the county fire marshal and the Sheriff's Office.

That allows a chain of command and a chain of evidence to be created, the fire chief said.

"We have a tendency to call in someone that has a little bit more expertise in investigating these (at) the criminal investigation level," Wooten said.

The fire chief said that fire officials might know more about the cause of the fire later on Thursday.

A news release said the 16-acre historic site would remain closed to the public until repairs could be completed.

The Governor Aycock Road facility was also in the news in October, when the Sheriff's Office investigated the theft of Gulf Coast/Florida native sheep from the property.