A Memphis man has been criminally charged after a Memphis property was damaged by fire on January 25th.
Thompson Stricklen, 29, was ticketed with the Class B misdemeanor charge of reckless burning, after law enforcement alleged a bonfire at his property had ultimately led to a fire several properties away, resulting in damage to the home.
According to court documents, the Memphis Police Department was aware of the fire at 140 W Mety Street, Stricklen’s residence, on the evening of the 25th.
Just after midnight, a passerby contacted the Scotland County dispatch regarding a possible fire at 419 North Clay Street.
Police Chief Bill Holland responded to the call and no flames were reported. However further investigation revealed that a cedar tree at the northeast corner of the property had burnt, resulting in melted siding on the home.
After questioning the property owner about the damage, investigators suspected it could have been caused by embers from the nearby bonfire at the Stricklen property.
“At that point in the investigation I shined my flashlight toward the Stricklen property,” said Holland. “While the fire in the yard appeared to be extinguished, I quickly noticed smoke coming from the Stricklen home.”
The fire department was dispatched to the scene and law enforcement quickly moved the 140 W. Mety property to notify the home owners and help in getting the family out of the home.
“The fire department responded quickly and contained the fire, which appeared to have started in the basement,” said Holland.
Initial reports from the second fire scene attributed the blaze to an electrical issue related to the home’s furnace in the basement of the property.
Investigators indicated in court documents that further review of the fire damage at the initial call at the 419 N. Clay property turned up no evidence of cigarette butts or any source of electricity near the fire, which appeared to be solely on the outside of the residence. Investigators also noted the strong wind at that time, which was coming from the direction of the Stricklen property, where the bonfire had been burning earlier.
Holland noted that the city does not have laws against open burning, but noted the responsibility for property damage caused by such open fires is still maintained by the source of the fire.