BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - The Independence County Sheriff's Department has announced that they do have a man in custody in connection with a suspicious fire last year.
According to Sheriff Steve Jeffery, after 11 months of investigation, Christopher Brashers is in custody for arson. He is accused of setting fire to three businesses located on 1614 Harrison in Batesville—Pioneer Pizza, Teed Family Dentistry, and Hon's Sav-On Drugs.
Because of the fire, police say the three businesses had over $1 million in losses and disruptions in their professional and personal lives.
Around 10 p.m. on June 20, 2011, firefighters received a 9-1-1 call from someone who saw smoke coming from two of the buildings.
Mark McCollum, with the Batesville Fire Department, says when crews arrived on the scene the Pioneer Pizza was fully engulfed, and quickly spread to the Teed Family Dentistry and Hon's Sav-On Drugs.
"We had twenty-two men on scene. We actually spent five hours on scene," said McCollum.
Fire investigators were on scene the following Wednesday surveying the damage trying to find out what exactly caused the buildings to catch fire.
"Just looking for cause and origin of the fire right now. Trying to determine the area of the building where the fire started and occurred and go from there," said Detective Randy Sharp, an officer with the Independence County Sheriff's Department who has specialized training in arson investigations and fire related incidents.
Detective Sharp said investigators had to wait until that Wednesday to start investigating because the rubble was still too hot. He says they haven't ruled out arson.
"I haven't ruled anything out. It's just a fire and we're looking into it. Just like any other fire in the county. If it's a house fire, or if it's an apartment fire, or business fire. We look into them," said Sharp."It affects the entire community. It was a pharmacy. So, the people with their meds and scripts and the relationships they've had with their pharmacist is gone right now temporarily until they relocate. Same thing with the dentist," said Sharp.
We will continue to track this story, and let you know of any new developments.