Reported by Laura Sinacori -
Posted by Debra Worley -
CHADBOURN, NC (WECT) - Authorities have determined the fire at Carolina Tire Sales in Chadbourn was arson.
An investigative task force said evidence shows three males dressed in dark clothing were seen running from the vicinity of the building. Investigators said the three men entered a red car being driven by another person before the fire.
"Right now our biggest concern is that we catch the individuals responsible for starting this fire," said Town Manager Stevie Cox.
The fire completely wiped out Carolina Tire Sales.
"My life's turned upside down," said owner Tim Nobles. "I'm devastated. I've got 7 guys employed with me and I'm trying to keep them a job at another location, not as big as here, but keep them a paycheck and keep myself a paycheck."
Officials say they believe the fire started on the western side of the building closest to Wilkes Street. They think it started small and then escalated into five alarms.
Along with the damages, the cost of cleaning will soon be passed down to Nobles.
"I've got insurance, but I don't know if I have enough to cover that or not," said Nobles.
Now the focus of the investigation has shifted to catching the arsonists and determining why someone would do this.
"There is reason to believe that it could have been a holster of reasons why someone would have done it, we just don't know now," said Cox.
All Nobles knows is that he must move on and start over.
"My business is gone, but I've got to start back over again," said Nobles. "I started with nothing, now I'm back with nothing. I'm going to start over and I'm going to do some things different."
Anyone with information about the arson is asked to call any of the following numbers:
ATF - (800) 800-3855
NC SBI Arson Hot Line - (800) 334-3000
Columbus County Fire Marshall - (910) 640-6610
Chadbourn Police Department - (910) 654-4146