ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Some residents just north of Abilene’s Sayles neighborhood were awoken early Tuesday morning to flashing lights and the smell of smoke. One homeowner says this house fire couldn’t have been an accident.
A fire broke out around 5:00 a.m. in the 400 block of Sewell Street, heavily damaging one home and destroying another. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, one landlord said he has his suspicions as to its origin.
“He wouldn’t pay me the rent and I asked him to move dozens of times,” said landlord and homeowner David Reinert.
Reinert told KTAB/KRBC he owns the home that was destroyed, which he had been renting out. Prior to the Tuesday morning’s fire, he said his relationship with his tenant had been anything but positive.
“He’s out and out threatened me, telling me he’s gonna burn my house down, and said nobody else is gonna live there,” Reinert blamed.
Arson has not been confirmed and the investigation is ongoing. Reinert claimed he had discovered that the tenant had been selling illicit drugs out of the home, and that he had made attempts to remove the tenant, even going to the police. However, he said the tenant met each request with extreme opposition.
“I asked him to leave, he called me Saturday trying to make things work out. I told him, ‘all I want you to do is give me my money you owe me and leave. Be gone!’ I guess he had different things in mind,” recalled Reinert.
All residents in the damaged homes were able to escape without major injury, as according to the Abilene Fire Department (AFD). AFD estimated $35,000 in damage to the destroyed home, and at least $15,000 in damages to the neighboring home.