PONTOTOC, Miss. - A third fire in 13 months swept through American Furniture's warehouses in Pontotoc, Mississippi and police say it's arson.
The blaze, which took more than two-and-a-half hours to extinguish, completely destroyed one warehouse and 5,000 finished pieces of furniture. Fire officials said 15-20 mile-per-hour winds and access to only one fire hydrant made it extremely challenging to extinguish.
Police arrested 30-year-old Jason Lee Dost for arson. The police say he applied for a job at American Furniture Thursday morning, the day of the fire. After he was told to come back the next day, Doss reportedly went into the warehouse, where he was seen on surveillance crouching next to some furniture. Police say he used a lighter to start the fire.
Several employees saw Doss near the fire and chased him until police arrived on the scene, reports WLBT Mississippi News. Doss has confessed to the crimes.
This wasn't the only fire. Employees reportedly discovered a fire in a separate warehouse around the same time. They were able to extinguish on their own. It's unclear whether Doss was involved in both.
No one was injured in either.
This is the third fire to occur at the plant since January 2018. The January fire, whose cause was never determined, took 21 fire departments to battle and destroyed 400,000 square feet of warehouse space and 35,000 furniture pieces. An October fire required the help of more than a dozen fire departments, destroying much of the company's 1 million-square-foot facility and consuming more than 15,000 pieces of furniture.
The October fire was ruled arson and a $15,000 reward was offered for information. No arrests were ever made.
AFM is one of the country's largest manufacturers of upholstered home furniture, employing 700 workers. The company rebounded successfully after each fire, resuming production in mere weeks. It's unknown whether they'll be able to do the same this time.
This isn't the only furniture maker to have arson in the region. We reported about a September 29 fire at Washington Furniture that ravaged the company's 350,000-square-foot plant. Arson was declared the cause by local police. Plant owners are offering $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.