Cordova police search for persons of interest in arson fires | News
CORDOVA, AL (WBRC)- More than 48 hours after catching fire, smoke continued to pour out of Paula Birmingham's Beauty Salon in downtown Cordova Monday.
Last Friday evening, someone set fire to the old building and to the public library that sits just across the street. The two buildings and several others sit inside an area that's been fenced off since shortly after tornadoes destroyed many of them April 27.
So when patrol officer Ronnie Phillips saw two men inside around 6:30 p.m. Friday, he became suspicious.
"We try to keep everybody out for safety reasons and he just noticed them running from one building to another," Cordova Police Chief Kenneth Bobo explained.
Bobo says when Phillips tried to approach the young men, they ran away. He caught up with them a short time later, took their information and warned them to stay out of the area. As he headed back downtown he noticed smoke coming from one of the buildings and called the fire department.
"As soon as the fire department arrived, they noticed there were two buildings smoking. They were able to extinguish one of the buildings before it became fully involved," Bobo said.
Flames had already damaged the salon. It took 12 hours and more than 30 firefighters to finally douse the flames.
The city had already been trying to get FEMA help in tearing down the damaged buildings. The process had been interrupted once before when several buildings accidentally caught fire from a small brush fire.
Monday, Chief Bobo said he hopes Friday's fires won't cause another stall in the process.
"It's just very heartbreaking that these two men possibly ruined the rest of their lives on something that was eventually going to be torn down anyways."
Barbara Skaggs is one of about 2,500 residents that live in the small Walker County town. She would like to see the damaged buildings go, but doesn't feel burning them was the way to do it. "I don't know why they would do it…out of boredom or just to be mean," Skaggs said.
At this time, the two young men Officer Ronnie Phillips spoke with are considered persons of interest in the case. Bobo says they have sent evidence off to the Department of Forensic Sciences for analysis and once they get that back they will move forward in the case.
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