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Landlord says 'suspicious' fire may have been arson

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SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) -

There are new accusations surrounding a house fire near Noonday last Friday. On Wednesday the landlord of that house said he knows why it burned down.

When the sun came up Friday morning the house on Rushing Road was almost completely gone. Four fire departments were no match for the flames that destroyed the seven-year-old home.

Landlord Blas Murillo said it all started with an eviction.

"The last two months, two and a half months, [my former tenant] didn't pay me," Murillo said. "So I took him to court for eviction."

Court records obtained exclusively by CBS 19 line up with the landlord's story.

They show an early February eviction for a tenant who didn't pay his rent and a final move-out date just before Valentines Day.

"I asked him for the key. I said just give me the key," Murillo said. "He said I'm not going to give you no key."

Murillo said the tenant was still there on Valentines Day but he went in under court order and found damage in the back.

"I get into the house and I saw on the roof of the house where he's been on the roof and stepping on the sheet rock and breaking the sheet rock," Murillo said.

"The first unit on the scene said that the attic was fully involved and that the back side of the house had fully collapsed," Smith County Assistant Fire Marshal Connie Wasson said. "The roof and the attic had collapsed when they got here."

Wasson called the fire "suspicious."

Murillo said the last words he heard from the tenant left no doubt.

"'I'm going to [expletive] your house up,'" Murillo said. "Straight like that he told me."

The fire is still under investigation. There has been no official determination of arson.

CBS 19 was unable to contact the former tenant.

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