News Releases

Contact: Steve Holmes

ASHVILLE, Alabama – A judge this week ordered a St. Clair County landlord to pay $500,000 to a woman whose

11-year-old daughter died in a 2008 fire in which the rental mobile home did not have working smoke detectors.

In his ruling issued late Thursday afternoon, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Bill Weathington Jr., ordered William G.

Swindall to pay the money to Angela Roddy, whose daughter, Carrie Louise Crowder, died in the Jan. 18, 2008 fire

off Crawfords Cove Road near Ashville.

The judge wrote in his 4-page ruling that other fires had previously occurred in rental properties owned by Swindall,

including one in which a man died.

"Based on the findings of fact, the court concludes that defendant William Swindall was aware of his legal duty to

provide operational smoke detectors in the mobile home he leased to Angela Roddy; that he had knowledge that the

mobile home did not have operational smoke detectors while Ms. Roddy and her daughter were living there; that he

was aware that a pre-teenage child was living in that home; and that he had already had the experience of having a

tenant die in a fire, thus he knew first hand of the injury that would likely or probably result should a fire occur,"

according to the judge's ruling.

The judge went on to write that Swindall "knowingly and intentionally disregarded the potential risk and failed and

refused to install operational smoke detectors in the dwelling leased by Ms. Roddy."

Roddy's attorney, Stan Glasscox, said Friday that they were pleased and grateful to the judge and to the deputy

state fire marshal who testified. "No amount of money can bring this young lady back to her family," he said.

"I hope it (the verdict) sends a message to slum lords that they can't ignore the law, and if they do they will

eventually get caught and there are consequences, and in this case, the death of a child," Glasscox said.

Attorney Gary L. Weaver also represented Roddy in the case.

Efforts to reach Swindall or his attorney Friday were unsuccessful.

Weathington had held a bench trial on July 10 in which he heard testimony and looked at evidence submitted by both


Deputy State Fire Marshall Andy Yarbrough, according to the ruling, testified that he had "warned" Swindall of thisobligation to have working smoke detectors at least two times prior to Roddy leasing the mobile home in 2006.

Yarbrough testified that Roddy had a smoke detector in the kitchen and one on the hall but neither worked.

The judge cited Yarbrough's testimony:

"This is of some concern because I have warned the owner [Mr. Swindall]

before that he is required as a landlord to have working smoke detectors in his rental properties. (I worked another

fire death case on 2/2/2003 where William Nunn died. I could not verify smoke detectors in that fire. I verbally

warned Will Swindall at that time about his obligation to have wired in smoke detectors in his tenant rented

properties. I reminded him again in two fires on 9/18/2003 and 9/19/2003 of rental properties that burned with no

smoke detectors. Those two fires were not rented out at the time of those fires though)."

In the early morning of Jan. 18,2008 Roddy

took her boyfriend to meet his ride to work, Carrie at home with their

five dogs and a cell phone, according to the judge's order. "A fire of unknown cause and unknown specified origin

occurred in the dwelling while Ms. Roddy was gone. Burn and smoke patterns indicate that the fire started in the

kitchen/den area of the mobile home dwelling, on the opposite end of the dwelling from the bedroom occupied by

Carrie. The fire was one that produced a great deal of smoke.

"If smoke detectors had been working, Carrie would have had escape options and she knew how to get out of a fire,"

the judge wrote. "Both the Report of Autopsy and the Certificate of Death indicate that eleven-year-old Carrie's

cause of death was from asphyxia due to smoke inhalation. The position, condition and location of her remains

following the fire indicate she never awakened from her sleep before she died."



Contact: Steve Holmes
(334) 241-4166
Russellville, Al.-A joint investigation by Russellville Police and Fire Departments and the Alabama State Fire Marshal's Office has resulted in the arrest of a Russellville man for Arson and Attempted Murder. The fire occurred Thursday (5/29) on East Lauderdale Street in Russellville and was determined to have been intentionally set. At the time of the blaze, eight people were inside the residence including four children between the ages of 1 and 18.  Investigators Friday (5/30) arrested 50 year old Jeffery DeWayne Baker, an across the street neighbor of the burned residence. Baker has subsequently been charged with eight counts of Attempted Murder and Arson First Degree. He's being held in the Franklin County Jail under a $750,000 Bond.

Contact: Steve Holmes, PIO
(334) 240-4434
CamdenThe Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office has announced the arrest of an arson suspect in connection with a Wednesday house fire in Camden, Wilcox County.  The Camden Volunteer Fire Department was called to 75 Eastwood Drive shortly after 5:00 p.m. Wednesday (3/14/12).   Upon arrival, the fire was well involved resulting in extensive damage.  A subsequent investigation by the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s office, The Camden Volunteer Fire Department and the Camden Police Department determined the fire to have been deliberately set.  Further investigation led to the Thursday arrest of 36 year old Kimu A. Craig for Arson First degree, a Class A felony, carrying a sentence of from ten years to Life.  The alleged Arson appears to have stemmed from an ongoing domestic dispute.  Craig was placed in the Wilcox County Jail and no bond has been set at this time.  Remember, to report a suspicious fire or arson, you may call the Alabama Arson Hotline at 1-800-654-0775 or by going on line to www.firemarshal.alabama.gov

Title: Deadly Autauga Fire Ruled Accidental
Contact: Steve Holmes, PIO

Press Release


Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office


(Autaugaville) “Combustibles placed too close to a space heater” in the living room likely caused the fire that killed sixteen month old Wesley Stephen Bohannon II early Monday morning (2/6/12), according to Alabama State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk.  Six people were inside the home on Dutch Bend Street in Autaugaville at the time of the fire, called in around 6:00 a.m. Relatives attempted repeatedly to save the toddler to no avail. The mother, father and two sisters of the youngster were all injured in the fire and the mother remains hospitalized in Atlanta with second and third degree burns. 

In the wake of this tragedy, Marshal Paulk reminds citizens to always keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn. Shut off or unplug heaters when you go to bed or leave your home.  

Title: Arrest Made in Chilton Arsons
Contact: Steve Holmes, PIO
Union Grove



Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office


(Union Grove)  A series of suspicious fires in a Chilton County mobile home park has resulted in the arrest of a suspected arsonist.  The fires all occurred beginning in the early hours Sunday morning through early Sunday evening at a trailer park located on Chilton County Road 42.  The first fire was called in at 3:55 a.m., the second at 7:57 a.m. and the third at4:30 p.m.  An ensuing investigation by the Chilton County Sherriff’s Office and the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office resulted in the arrest of 51 year old Richard Hand, as resident of the mobile home park for about a month.  Taken into custody yesterday, the suspect was out of jail on bond for setting mobile homes on fire last year in another trailer park on Chilton County Road 61.  Hand is currently being held in the Chilton County Jail under a bond of $300,000 in connection with his most recent arrest.  Remember to report arson or suspected arson on the ALABAMA ARSON HOTLINE: 1-800-654-0775 or at www.firemarshal.alabama.gov.