Officials investigate 3 suspicious fires flaring up over night, - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Officials investigate 3 suspicious fires flaring up over night, say may be connected

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Investigators from both Horry County Fire Rescue and the Horry County Police Department are investigating three structure fires from Wednesday night into Thursday morning, and say they are now being called suspicious.

Fire officials with Horry County Fire Rescue say the fact that the same circumstances were found at all three locations, has them thinking this is likely not a coincidence and the fires are only 10 to 15 minutes apart from one another

What's left of a sign posted on the first scorched property, read trespassers will be prosecuted. Horry County Fire Rescue responded to the first fire of the night on Millpond Road around 8:20 p.m., Wednesday night.

Two hours later, crews were on their way to another fire. This time, over on Highway 19. Where Thursday afternoon, crews had to return because flames rekindled. Just when crews thought the night was over, at 4:30 a.m. this morning, they responded to another fire on Highway 917. 

The home was Shane Hammond's family home. Living right up the street from the temporarily vacant home...he says he heard all the commotion over night, and didn't realize how unusual these circumstances were, until this morning.

"Then this morning when I heard that, they said it as at 4:30 and I was like, well that's... then I realized there were two previous fires and it was the last one of the night. So then it started clicking. You know that something's not right," Hammond Explained.

Hammond says he also knows the property owner of one of the other homes and no one has lived there for the last five to six years. Though no one was in any of the now scorched homes, the last fire burned many memories left inside.

"My husband inherited it from his parents, and it was an old home. it was built in 1875, and it holds a lot of memories," Virlyn Shelley explained. 

The former family home, now left charred black in rubble...has been in the Shelley Family since the early 1930's and unlike the two other fires over night, this home was recently lived in.

"Vacant, but far from abandoned, it had everything we still owned because it was just temporary, we were going back," Hammond explained.

Shane Hammond lived in the home just two months ago, and kept a close eye on the home when he moved to another family home up the road. He can't help but think of all the pictures that burned with the home but he's trying to keep positive thoughts.

"But then you realize you still have your children, and everybody is still here, that stuff can be replaced, but people can't," Hammond in front of his two young daughters.

The fact that two other homes burned in the same night, is upsetting to the family. Especially because another family member was set to move back in, just a few weeks from now.

"With the other houses burning the same night, it makes me think somebody was burning them to watch them burn," Shelley said.

Since investigators have told the family the three may be connected, Hammond just hopes his family home is the last one affected.

"It usually it starts off with abandoned houses, and then they get bored, and as it gets more intriguing to them, then they do stuff, real stupid stuff, so just pray that's not what it is," Hammond said.

Hammond's biggest fear is that a home with people in it could be next.  If you know anything at all, call police right away.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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