Authorities investigating two Roanoke fires for potential criminal activity

Family who escaped fire speaks out: ‘We’re happy that we made it out alive’

ROANOKE, Va. – According to search warrants obtained by 10 News, two Roanoke fires from last week are being investigated as arson.

On Monday, Nov. 11 around 2 a.m., crews responded to a fire on Bullitt Ave. SE that displaced six people. Around 4 a.m., crews were dispatched to a fire on Dale Ave. SE. The homes are a mile apart. No injuries were reported in either fire.

According to search warrants, both fires are being investigated as arson cases and both locations were searched for flammable materials, such as matches, lighters or any other materials capable of starting a fire. Officials also reportedly searched for DNA, electrical appliances as well as any other items that could be connected to separate crimes.

The search warrants indicate that photos and drone footage were taken at the scenes, and debris was also collected.

A black backpack with cleaning supplies, drain cleaner, AA lithium batteries, rubber tubing, a graduated cylinder, lighter fluid and two bags full of a granulated substance was reportedly taken from the fire on Bullitt Drive.

In the search warrant, officials state that “items were discovered that appeared to be controlled substances and/or used in the manufacture or distribution of controlled substances.”

Six people lived inside the house on Bullitt. On Tuesday, 10 News spoke with several of the residents for the first time since the fire. One woman said she was the first to wake up and saw smoke and flames, which is when she rushed to wake up everybody else in the house.

The residents, who were renting the house, said they lost everything, including money, clothing and personal belongings. However, they said they feel lucky everyone got out safely.

One resident, Eric Halsey, said that everyone thought the fire may have been sparked by an electrical issue because they’ve had issues with the wires short-circuiting before. So, he said they were shocked to hear that someone may have intentionally set the house on fire.

“It’s a little scary that somebody was trying to set our house on fire,” Halsey said.

“Very devastating. Alarming,” said Maria Dunn, Halsey’s live-in girlfriend. “But we’re happy that we made it out alive, everybody made it out alive.”

Both fires are under investigation.

The people who lived at the house on Bullitt said that the American Red Cross helped them out this week, providing enough money for them to buy food, clothing and pay for a hotel. However, on Tuesday, they had to check out of their hotels and don’t know where they are going to sleep.

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