A suspicious fire was reported at 2:13 a.m., on Monday, Nov. 15 at 3901 FM-1230. The fire occurred at a ranch house, located southwest of Roscoe. The Roscoe Volunteer Fire Department was the first on the scene and enlisted the assistance of the Sweetwater Fire Department and Loraine Volunteer Fire Department. The call was reported by an oil field delivery driver, that was making her way to a large drilling rig location several miles up the road.
The brick, ranch house, which is located almost eight miles south of I-20, belonging to Mr. John H. Henley Jr., was declared a total loss.
Mr. Henley and his wife had relocated to their current location, in Sweetwater, five years ago due to health reasons. The ranch house was unoccupied at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.
According to the current investigation, there were three buildings involved in the fire and alleged burglary; the main ranch house and two outbuildings. Signs of forced entry were present to one of the outbuildings nearest the house and adjacent to the garage. A third building was also burglarized, according to Mr. Henley.
Several items were reported missing, including power equipment, welding supplies and four saddles. He also noticed an air compressor, blankets and bridals missing, from the out buildings. Henley said he is unsure of any items that were missing from inside the house, due to the damage.
“We lost my dad’s World War II uniform, my son’s Eagle Scout uniform,” Henley said. “You can’t put a value on that and you can’t replace it.”
Sheriff David Warren said due to the alleged burglary, the fire is being treated suspicious in nature. A joint investigation is being conducted with the State Fire Marshal's Office- Arson unit, based out of Austin.
"We will make every effort to determine the cause and origin of the fire," Warren said. "We will do our best to investigate the burglaries that well may be associated with the fire."
Warren said more will be known once the experienced fire investigators arrive, from the State Fire Marshal's Office. Criminal Investigator Tim Blount and Sergeant Brock Carter will be the two members of the Nolan County Sheriff Department that will be assisting in the investigation. The investigation is expected to begin as soon as the debris is cool enough, which could be as early as this afternoon.
The house and its contents were insured. The insurance company and a fire investigator adjuster will also be conducting their own investigation, with the State Fire Marsha's Office.
If anyone has any information about this matter, they can call the Nolan County Sheriff's Office at 325-235-5471 or Crime Stoppers at 325-235- TIPS (235-8477).