01/03/14 — Fifth house leveled by fire

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Fifth house leveled by fire

By John Joyce
Published in News on January 3, 2014 1:46 PM

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It took just 18 minutes for the Goldsboro Fire Department to contain a blaze inside this vacant home at 700 Rudolph St. early this morning.

The Goldsboro Fire Department today battled yet another in a series of suspicious fires set in vacant homes, this time on Rudolph Street.

Fire crews from Engines 1, 2, 4 and Ladder 1 responded to 700 Rudolph St., a single family residence, at 5:20 a.m. and worked to control the blaze.

Car 2 had command.

"The crews did a pretty aggressive interior attack," Assistant Fire Chief James Farfour said.

Fire and smoke were visible from three sides of the structure, according to the fire report.

"Most of our time on scene was spent overhauling and looking for hidden pockets of fire," Farfour said.

The fire was deemed under control 18 minutes after the first engine arrived.

As always, the fire crews conducted a preliminary search and found no one in the home, more than 50 percent of which was damaged by fire or heat, fire officials said.

Investigators do not yet know if this fire is related to three fires set in the area the weekend of Nov. 23 and 24, or a similar incident on Corney Street in December.

"We saw what appeared to be patterns in the fire that might have been consistent with an accelerant. Samples were taken to be sent off to the SBI," Farfour said.

The State Bureau of Investigation was called in to assist with two of the three fire scene investigations conducted in November, the first at 405 S. John St., and the other at 111 N. Kornegay St.

In both of those blazes, accelerants were suspected.

A vacant residence fire set the day before, at 113 W. Pine St., was not investigated by the SBI, but was handled by the fire department and local law enforcement, as was the case with the fire at 703 Corney St., set Dec. 11.

No accelerants were suspected in the Corney Street fire, and unlike the other four, the Corney Street fire started in the evening. The rest were set between 5 and 6 a.m.

Additionally, each of the first four fires occurred within a little more than a mile radius of each other.

Today's blaze pushes that boundary to two miles.

Additionally, each of the residences burned, with the exception of 703 Corney St., is owned by people who still reside in Wayne County.

The owner of the residence burned today on Rudolph Street is listed on the Goldsboro police report as Sarah Horton Westbrook, 77, of Pikeville.

Goldsboro Fire Chief Gary Whaley could not be reached for comment. Goldsboro Police Chief Jeff Stewart did not return a call for comment by press time.