Crime

Investigators believe this house fire was arson

Businessman George Mears of California owns this home that caught fire while under construction on U.S. 90 in Long Beach.
Businessman George Mears of California owns this home that caught fire while under construction on U.S. 90 in Long Beach. calee@sunherald.com

A home under construction was intentionally burned down, the Long Beach Fire Department has determined.

Investigators are hoping anyone with information about the suspected arson will come forward, Assistant Fire Chief Griff Skellie said.

Businessman George Mears of California was having the three-story home built for retirement. The house had been framed, but no wiring or other electrical components had been installed.

Skellie said no welding, soldering or other work involving sparks had been done around the house before the fire was reported at 5:30 a.m. Oct. 5.

“It just got to the point that we think it’s an intentional arson fire,” Skellie said.

He said Mears was still working with engineers to determine the value of the loss. He was building a 6,500 square-foot, elevated house with two full stories and a crow’s nest.

Skellie said Mears still plans to rebuild.

“He said this was just a bump in the road,” Skellie said.

The state fire marshal’s office is involved in the investigation and offers a $5,000 reward for information leading to conviction.

Tips can be reported to the Long Beach Fire Department at 228-863-7292 or through Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898. Tips also can be submitted online to Crime Stoppers.

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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