Fire chief: Arson possible cause of blaze

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Two vacant houses in the 1500 block of Lawrence Street went up in flames Tuesday afternoon, sending thick, white smoke about 1,000 feet above one of Selma’s oldest neighborhoods.

Selma Fire Chief Henry Allen said they suspect arson was the cause. A nearby neighbor said it was the worst thing she’d ever seen.

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Bianca Wooford, 28, who lives at the corner of Philpot Avenue and Lawrence Street, said she could see the flames from her house.

“I’m in shock,” said Wooford as he stood watching firefighters work to extinguish the blaze. “I’ve never seen anything like this up close and personal. With the houses so close together, one house is burning and caught the other on fire.”

Allen said he wished he could just let the abandoned structures burn to the ground.

“But we can’t. There’s another house on the corner of Keller (Avenue) that’s occupied,” Allen said. “There’s no doubt it’s arson. When we arrived they were fully involved. That old, rich lumber – it’s just waiting to burn.”

Firefighters blocked off Lawrence Street between Eugene Avenue and Keller Avenue, hooked hoses to their trucks and nearby fire hydrants. There were no injuries, and the exact cause is still under investigation, Allen said.