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‘Really unusual fire’ lights up night sky in Petersburg

PETERSBURG, Va. -- A Petersburg home went up in flames Wednesday evening, spreading quickly before firefighters arrived.

“It was already burning but it was smoking when I got there,” said Everard Jones, a neighbor of the family displaced by the blaze.

Other witnesses said flames filled the night sky.

Firefighters arrived to find heavy fire on the second floor of the duplex. While the family of four lost practically everything in the fire but their clothes, investigators are now saying they do not believe the fire was accidental.

“This is a really unusual fire here on this porch, the way the deck is burnt in the manner it did,” Petersburg Assistant Fire Marshal Marlow Jones said. “It maintained itself right up in this [back] area here. It had nowhere else to go but up.”

The investigation is ongoing, but for now it is being ruled incendiary.

“It’s incendiary, which means that a fire was set under circumstances where they knew it shouldn’t be set,” Jones explained. “The difference in incendiary and arson is arson is a crime of setting a fire maliciously, recklessly and intentionally or causing an explosion.”

Another reason Jones suspects the fire was incendiary was because it spread rapidly.

“It was hot enough to where it needed some assistance, some kind of accelerate,” Jones explained.

Petersburg duplex fire

Petersburg duplex fire

The family, who was moving to a house across the street in only two weeks, had already moved the majority of their belongings out of the home.

A woman who lived in the home who asked to remain anonymous said the family wasn’t home during the fire.

“Around 8 o’clock my aunt called and told us the house was burning,” she said. “I’m just thankful that we wasn’t in there.”

The duplex next door suffered fire and smoke damage.

Jones said the building owner will be sent a letter telling him to make repairs or demolish the building.

If you have any information about this fire that could help investigators, call Crime Solvers at 804-861-1212.