Police say they are investigating a house fire that destroyed a home on the corner of Mud Bay and Small Tracts roads for possible arson.
“The nature, timing and circumstances of it make it very suspicious,” said officer Michael Fullerton, who is leading the investigation.
The incident, which happened around 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5, led police to close the intersection for about an hour as four vehicles – one pumper, two tankers and an ambulance, plus at least a dozen personnel – battled the blaze.
“By the time we got there, the building was fully involved,” said Haines Volunteer Fire Department chief Brian Clay. “Everything inside burned up.”
Clay said it took about three hours to completely extinguish the fire. He said nobody was in the house, but a dog was at the property and was picked up by Haines Animal Rescue Kennel.
Police sent out a Nixle alert over text message and email to residents who signed up for the notification service, but they have declined to release further details about allegations that the blaze was arson-related, other than saying it is under investigation.
Cory Mann, the owner of the property, said that he’s working with police to determine the cause of the blaze, which he believes is arson.
He said an acquaintance had been living on the property for about a month in exchange for work on the property, but the person had been acting erratically, even sending vaguely threatening emails to Mann, who lives in Juneau. Mann said the person had tried to escape the area the day of the blaze in a motorhome that had been parked on the property. But the vehicle ran out of gas on Cemetery Hill, and the person abandoned it. So far, no criminal charges have been filed.
“It’s quite frustrating that nobody can get anything on him,” said Mann, who called him “a dangerous man.”
Fullerton denied the man posed a threat. “We are aware of the individual and he poses no threat to the Haines community,” he said.