Posted by : November 22, 2013| On :
Monitor Staff Writer
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Sheriff’s deputies are conducting an investigation following the unearthing of human remains at a property on the north side of U.S. 175 between Mabank and Eustace Nov. 20.
Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt told The Monitor that the skeletal remains will be sent to The Center for Human Identification’s Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology at the University of North Texas for analysis and identification.
Last year, investigators received information that lead them to believe that the remains of man who had been missing for a year might be found on the property. However, after an exhaustive search, their findings were inconclusive.
Recently, a new owner of the property started clearing and moving dirt, when he came upon what he suspected were human remains and called the sheriff’s office to investigate.
The missing person has not been seen for two years now, Nutt said. “We won’t know if this is him until the anthropologist confirms the identity,” he said.
Nutt believes it may be the man in question because of the information his office has received that he once lived on the property. Nutt said his office has received other information that makes him suspect foul play is involved.
Posted by : November 16, 2013| On :
By Britne Reeves
Monitor Staff Writer
CANTON–Many of the businesses and residences on Canton’s First Monday “The Mountain” in Canton are gone, but those that live there and city officials agree, it could have been worse.
According to Sammie Frederick, owner of two bed and breakfast establishments on The Mountain, a policeman knocked on her door early Saturday morning, Nov. 9, telling her to “get out of your house, there is a fire.”
“It took me a second to really comprehend what was going on. But then I saw the blaze, and it looked large. So, I ran down the hill knocking on doors waking people up to get everyone to safety,” Frederick said.
A Canton policeman on regular patrol reported the fire at 3:48 a.m. and started the evacuation, according to city administrator Julie Seymore.
The Mountain is located adjacent to Old Mill Marketplace at 542 E. Dallas St. (Highway 64.) The shops, storefronts, residences and rooms for rent were built with an Old West theme. Narrow streets meander up the side of the steep hill.
Frederick said it was a lucky chance that more people were not on The Mountain.
“We had just hosted a hayride, where we take children up through the mountain to look at all the lights and decorations,” she said.
“A lot of people were here, but not as many as there are on market weekend. Everyone was evacuated and we all met down in the Old Mill Marketplace parking lot. From our position, the fire was enormous. It was about as tall as a tree and even standing about 100 feet away, the heat from the fire could still be felt. It was a sad and emotional moment for everyone,” Frederick said.
Approximately 25 people were evacuated, but there were no injuries. The Mountain officials said 15 shops and five bed and bath facilities were completely destroyed. According to a broadcast interview, owner Debbie Davis Reaves said some of the businesses were insured and some were not.
“The State Fire Marshal’s office has completed its investigation. They ruled the cause as undetermined,” said city manager Lonny Cluck.
On hand at the scene were Canton, South Van Zandt, Van, Grand Saline, Wills Point and Fruitvale fire departments and the American Red Cross.
“We really want to thank all the responding agencies who assisted on this fire,” Cluck said.
“On behalf of the city of Canton, I do not have the words to express what a remarkable job the first responders did in the protection of human life and personal property. These responders came from all over the county and handled this impossible task with a level of courage and professionalism that could not be surpassed. This group was well prepared and well trained.”
“This entire operation was orchestrated with an unbelievable amount of cooperation from each department. Chief Bud Sanford’s ability to adjust to the situation as scenarios changed was commendable. Canton’s firefighters are an outstanding group,” Cluck said.
Susan Mattassa, owner of the Buffalo Girls Hotel, was on The Mountain when the fire broke out.
“I was awakened by a knock at my door, and I smelled the smoke,” she said. “I then saw the fire and it was a feeling of sheer panic. There was a huge glow and embers flying around everywhere. It seemed like the fire was swallowing up everything on the mountain. It was a time of grief and sadness. There were firefighters and emergency response vehicles everywhere. If not for them, I think the fire would have consumed everything. I am so grateful to all of the fire departments for saving what they could.”
Fire chief Sanford said when he first assessed the fire, he knew that it could only go beyond a certain limit or everything would have been lost.
“When I first arrived at the scene, I did what we call a 360 view,” he said.
“We drive around the perimeter and then we draw lines to where the fire cannot pass. The fire was beyond the height of the trees and kept continuing to grow. We placed our firefighters where they needed to be and the fire did not reach beyond our lines. They did an excellent job at combating the fire. The only problem we had was getting water up the hill. There is not a fire plug on every corner like there is in a city. But, the fire was contained.”
By 11 a.m., the fire was out, with only a few wisps of smoke wafting up from the charred remains. The damaged area was central to the mountain, with buildings toward the front, sides and back undamaged.
The middle section of the complex looked like a burned-out crater. Several structures were completely burned down, and others severely damaged. Objects that were once for sale littered the ground; beads from necklaces were warped and melted, sheets of tin lay in heaps and Christmas decorations and lights lay scattered throughout the area.
Posted by : October 16, 2013| On :
Authorities build suspect profile Two mobile homes destroyed, two more damaged all within five days
By Tracy Martin
The Monitor Correspondent
CHEROKEE SHORES–Authorities say a serial arsonist is setting fires in Cherokee Shores and are asking for help in finding a suspect before the spree turns deadly. Too close for coincidence, two more fires over the weekend have authorities on alert after finding a connection between the most recent fires.
The second of four fires called in by a passerby last Thursday (Oct. 10) sent firefighters back to Cherokee Shores to battle a mobile home fire on Double Bridge Road, just before 11 p.m. The night before, crews responded to a fire that completely destroyed a mobile home less than a block away on Huntoon Trail. In the early hours Saturday night (Oct. 12), Payne Springs firefighters were back with two more fires, again on Huntoon Trail and Double Tree, crews were able to get the fires out before the mobile homes were destroyed, but both suffered heavy damage.
County fire marshal Shane Renberg and his two deputies, Jim Jenkins and Sherry Rotan, sifted through mounds of charred debris, placing bits and pieces of evidence in small plastic bags.
Renberg is saying little about the evidence he’s collecting or a motive as his office works to find a possible link between this fire and other structure fires in Cherokee Shores over the past six months. There have been eight fires in six months the last four were started in the same way, he said.
“We’re looking for common denominators in all the fires and asking questions,” he told The Monitor. “Is it arson? If so, why and four fires back-to-back like this. If someone is starting fires, we have to find out who so we can make an arrest (to prevent more fire).”
Renberg has ruled five to be arson and three are still under investigation.
Both mobile homes on Double Bridge and Huntoon were unoccupied at the time of the fires, but next door neighbor Jim Stewart says people were coming and going at the Double Bridge location, even though water and electricity are turned off.
A neighbor has reason to believe drug manufacturing may be a factor. Authorities agree, saying drug users often target unoccupied mobile homes for their illegal drug activities.
“There were cars coming and going at all hours, something was going on there, probably meth, we have a lot of crime and drugs here, that’s why you see those bars on my windows,” he said.
Stewart points at two other mobile homes up the road. “There’s a meth-house, there’s one over there, cops shut them down or arrest people, they just find another place to do it or buy the drugs, it’s ruining the neighborhood,” Stewart lamented.
The drug he is talking about is methamphetamine, a concoction of easy-to-obtain chemicals, cleaning solvents and over-the-counter cold medications. The end product is then smoked, snorted or injected with a syringe – cheap to make, but carrying a hefty price tag for small communities, as users turn to theft and burglary to buy the drugs and bring other users into once safe neighborhoods.
The structures that burned last Thursday and Friday were situated next door to occupied homes, put at-risk by the fires. Renberg is asking the community to help his office gather more details.
“I need people to call my office with any information they have, maybe they saw someone or heard something. If one of these fires gets out of control or jumps to other homes, innocent people – maybe even children – are going to get hurt or killed.”
The county fire marshal can be reached by calling (903) 675-6157.