By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – Investigators spent Friday morning digging through the rubble of a fire that consumed three mobile homes and burned several acres on Hwy. 32, several miles east of Oakland. A fourth home was damaged as the wind helped spread the blaze before firefighters arrived on the scene.
Firefighters from Velma, Tillatoba, Oakland and Water Valley responded when the fire was toned out just after lunch last Thursday.
“When I got there, smoke was blanketing the road, making visibility very poor,” said Sheriff Lance Humphreys, who arrived at the scene prior to the firefighters. Traffic was blocked until the wind calmed.
“We called the state investigator because multiple homes were damaged,” Yalobusha County Fire Investigator Frank Hyde said about the investigation. An investigator from the U.S. Forestry Service also helped assisted in the investigation, as the crew sifted through the rubble, searching for the origin of the fire.
Although foul play has not been ruled out, potential liability issues were an equally important factor that prompted the extensive investigation which included aerial photos taken of the scene following the fire, according to Hyde.
“The wind changed directions several times making it difficult to track the fire,” Hyde said about the investigation. Hyde also reported that it appeared that the fire burned for a while before anyone reported the blaze.
“We have just about ruled out the fire starting from a structure, it appears to have started from a woods fire,” Hyde added.
Two of the mobile homes destroyed were weekend cabins, while the third was a permanent residence. Only one of the homes was insured, according to Hyde.
Two of the mobile homes burned were located on Hwy. 32, and the third was located on County Road 296, a short road that runs parallel to the highway.
Other officials that responded to the fire included a trooper with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, an ambulance crew from Yalobusha General Hospital and U.S. Corps officials.
Firefighters in the county remained busy after a trailer caught fire at 478 CR176 just after 4 p.m. Friday.
On Saturday, Oakland firefighters responded to a porch fire.