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Cause of fire likely to remain a mystery

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POSTED: October 23, 2007 5:00 a.m.
 “We will never know what the actual cause of the fire is,” Liberty County Fire Coordinator and arson investigator James Ashdown said when questioned about the cause of an afternoon fire Sept. 23, at the Oglethorpe home of Dorothy Hines.
“The case is being closed as undeterminable because the fire scene was compromised before I arrived to conduct the initial investigation,” he said.
Ashdown said he learned family members and neighbors had crossed the fire-scene tape and were rummaging through the debris.
The blaze was reported at about 12:24 p.m.
The residence at 4931 West Oglethorpe Highway was covered by heavy smoke when units from the Walthourville Volunteer Fire Department and Hinesville’s station two arrived on the scene. Within minutes, the house was destroyed.
By the time Hines arrived, firefighters were cleaning the scene. In an incident report filed at the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Hines reported she believed the fire was caused intentionally because of civil disputes that were ongoing in court.
Public records obtained from the Liberty County Clerks Office show that on April 18, Hines filed for a protection order against former co-resident Eddie Hill, because of a battery incident in which Hill allegedly struck Hines. He was not to go within 100 yards of her or the minors at the Oglethorpe residence.
Hines was awarded sole and exclusive use of the residence in that order.
In September, a case was dismissed when Hill, who filed as the plaintiff, failed to show up for a summons of dispossessory, where Hines was listed as the defendant. That case was dismissed on Sept. 21.
Ashdown conducted interviews with several of the parties involved but said the investigation was a “wash out” since the precise cause of the fire can’t be determined.
 While interviewing him, Ashdown discovered there was a warrant for Hill’s arrest based on his failure to appear in court on the battery matter. He was arrested after the interview.
 

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