Suspect: Fire was built for warmth

Published 11:01 am Thursday, April 13, 2017

The case against a man charged with setting a February house fire on Athens Boonesboro Road is now going to the grand jury.

Billy Jack Bowles, 33, of 4300 Athens Boonesboro Road, is charged with second-degree arson for allegedly setting a fire in a storage room at the house on Feb. 16.

Wednesday, Clark County Fire Department fire marshal Ernest Barnes testified the fire was contained in a pit on a makeshift table in a storage room or closet built onto the front porch of the residence. There was no apparent access to the house from the room, he said, and firefighters had to force the door open because it was padlocked.

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Barnes said the fire caused some smoke damage, but was extinguished quickly.

Clark County Deputy Sheriff Wesley Craycraft said he and Deputy Lee Murray attempted to serve a warrant on Bowles earlier in the day, but could not find the residence. While they were on patrol later in the day, they saw smoke coming from this house, reported it to dispatchers and went to see if anyone was inside. Bowles was inside and at the door, Craycraft said.

Bowles resisted arrest and was taken to the jail before firefighters arrived.

Craycraft said the warrant was an emergency protection order to remove Bowles from the residence.

Bowles’ attorney Cole Maier said he built the fire for warmth on a winter day, but prosecutors said the fire wasn’t in a place to heat anything.

Special Judge Vanessa Dixon found enough probable cause to send the case forward.

“Why would a person padlock a room full of fire … if you didn’t intend for it to continue?” she said.

Dixon amended to Bowles’ bond from 10 percent of $10,000 to 10 percent of $5,000. He remains in the Clark County Detention Center.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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