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The loss of three young lives has led to an arson investigation after a house fire in Springfield left the community somber. KSMU’s Chasity Mayes tells us how “suspicious burn patterns” have turned a house fire into charges of a class a felony.
A Probable Cause Statement filed by the Springfield Police Department says a neighbor called 911 when he was awakened by a loud boom, looked out his window and saw flames coming from the house across Olive Street. Fire officials say that “boom” that was heard is consistent to fires started by accelerants.
David Allan Willams has been charged with arson in the first degree after detectives collected a pair of jeans Williams said he put on when he was told the house was on fire. The jeans, which were sent to police headquarters, were found to have a type of accelerant on the right pant leg after a trained dog smelled them.
Dan Patterson is the chief assistant prosecuting attorney. He says the type of arson being charged is the most serious kind.
“It’s charged as arson in the first degree by knowingly damaging a structure by lighting it on fire which recklessly placed individuals in the house in danger of death or serious physical injury it’s an a felony because as of a result of the fire there was a death, the tragic deaths of the children and also the grandfather who suffered serious physical injury,” saysPatterson.
The Probable Cause Statement also says a Springfield Fire Marshall indicated he observed patterns on the front porch and living room floor that he believed were consistent with an ignitable liquid being “poured” and burned into those areas before being set ablaze.
Bill Zeirs is the deputy chief state fire marshal for investigations and explosive enforcement.
“Typically investigators use a systematic examination of a fire scene going from least damage to most damage, highest damage to lowest damage following burn patterns that the fire left as it was burning in an attempt to locate the area of origin,” says Zeirs.
Zeirs also says that before they can investigate why a fire started, they have to find where it started. He says after they’ve done that, tools like specialized dogs can help them find out why a fire occurred. The dogs, which are sent to the state of Maine for training, spend six weeks with their new owners and the master trainer after they have completed the initial part of the program.
The children who died were siblings, ages seven, five, and four.
For KSMU News, I’m Chasity Mayes.
ANCHOR TAG: Williams, who was arraigned Thursday has a recommended bond of 250,000 dollars.