The Orange Police and Fire Departments are investigating a fire that appears to be the result of arson at 98 John Ave. in Orange on Sunday, Oct. 14.
Officer Marcus Bernard said he arrived at the scene on John Avenue at around 10:26 a.m. to assist with traffic. He said he there was “visible smoke and flames coming from the west side of the house.” Upon their arrival, the fire department attempted to extinguish the flames while Bernard spoke to the tenant of the house, Robert Dews Jr., 40.
According to police, Dews said he lived there with three dogs that were inside the house at the time of the fire. The fire department said the dogs did not survive. Dews told police he had not been home that day and had no knowledge regarding the cause of the fire. Fire investigators said “foul play is suspected,” according to the police report.
Patricia and Alfred Sezer own the home, which has been in Patricia’s family for decades.
“That was my aunt’s house,” Sezer said. “It has a lot of sentimental value. It has been in my family for years. I bought it to try to keep it in the family. It’s by the old Wallace School where I went to high school. It’s a big loss. It’s been in my family a long time, and now it’s gone.”
Sezer said police notified her and her husband Sunday morning around 10:30 a.m. as they were getting ready for church. When she arrived at the scene, she said a crowd of people was gathered watching the house burn. She said she knows the fire department has deemed the fire “suspicious,” but she does not know why anyone would burn down the house.
Alfred Sezer said the day after the fire someone went into the burned ruin and stole the copper from their air conditioning unit and pipes.
“They were waiting like sharks,” Sezer said of the copper thieves. “They hit yesterday. They were just waiting for them (police) to leave.”
Police and fire officials continue to investigate the suspicious fire.