By Kevin Walters
An Erin, Tenn. man pleaded guilty this summer to starting fires that eventually destroyed an abandoned house located at 820 Half Pone Road.
An investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office Bomb and Arson section and the Houston County Sheriff’s Department identified Franklin Rye as a suspect in the two incidents from 2014.
In October 2014, investigators discovered a 55-gallon metal drum was placed on the back porch of the empty structure and then set on fire. In December, a second fire burned the structure to the ground, leaving no scene for agents to evaluate. The first fire was extinguished by the local fire department and not reported to local law enforcement until after the second fire.
Rye lived next door to the abandoned house and the burned property had been previously owned by his family.
During an interview with investigators, Rye confessed to starting both fires. He was indicted by a Houston County Grand Jury on March 23, 2015. In July, Rye received a three year suspended sentence. He must also undergo supervised probation and pay court costs and fees.
“This is another good example of teamwork between our investigators and local law enforcement partners helping catch an arsonist,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Deputy Commissioner Gary West.
To report an arson or suspicious fire, call the Arson Hot Line (1-800-762-3017) 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous when providing information. Cash awards are offered for information leading to an arrest or conviction.