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ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County detectives are trying to determine if a Sunday arson involving two vehicles in a rural area north of Rogersville is connected to a suspicious fire that took the life of a Morristown man and his grandson early Saturday.
Hawkins County investigators believe two vehicles were intentionally set on fire early Sunday at the residence of Luther Mabe, who lives on Laurel Branch Road.
Mabe told investigators that he is related to the 4-year-old and the 74-year-old man who perished in a house fire in Morristown Saturday.
Morristown authorities have determined that fire is suspicious, and it is currently under investigation by state fire marshals.
Striggersville Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Gary Murrell told the Times-News Monday there’s little doubt that the car fires at Mabe’s residence were arson.
“The gentleman (Mabe) told us that he’d just lost some family in a suspicious fire in Morristown, and there was a lady and a smaller child staying with him that night when these two cars burned up,” Murrell said. “He felt it was suspicious that the two fires happened right after each other. It may be just a coincidence, but it’s kind of strange.”
Striggersville firefighters responded to the dual car fires at Mabe’s residence around 4:15 a.m. Sunday.
Mabe and his house guest, Pepper Johnson, told the HCSO they heard a loud noise, and when they looked outside they observed both of their vehicles on fire.
Johnson told the HCSO she was staying with Mabe because the heat at her home on nearby Poor Valley Road was out.
A 1998 Acura valued at $2,000 and a 1998 Pontiac valued at $2,000 were fully engulfed when firefighters arrived on the scene. Both cars were a complete loss.
“We couldn’t determine how they were set on fire because they were just about burnt completely gone,” Murrell said. “It was considered suspicious because they were both burning equally when we got there. That doesn’t really make sense unless they were intentionally set on fire at the same time.”
HCSO Chief Deputy Tony Allen told the Times-News Monday that detectives are investigating whether the Morristown fire and Mabe’s car fires are connected.
“We do know that they’re kin, and that was some of his (Mabe’s) family who passed away in that fatal fire in Morristown,” Allen said. “We don’t know if there is a connection between both fires at this time. We are still actively investigating it.”