*****************UPDATE PRESS RELEASE AT 5AM **************
Kingwood resident arrested in latest string of fires aimed at homes under construction.
Suspect previously arrested for similar arson spree in 2006. Latest fires have damaged or destroyed 10 homes in the City of Houston, Montgomery County and Harris County.
For release June 18th, 2010:
For the second time in 4 years a team of Arson Investigators from the City of Houston Fire Department, Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office and Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office has arrested 28 yr old Kingwood resident Matthew Carlyle White for setting fire to a house under construction.
A team of Arson Investigators from the Houston Fire Department and Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office has been conducting surveillance of the area while investigating the most recent string of fires. Most of the fires have occurred in the City of Houston, however one of the largest occurred in Montgomery County at 24438 Sundance Spring, in the Oakhurst Subdivision near Porter. This fire destroyed two homes and severely damaged a third.
White was arrested by Arson Investigators from the Houston Fire Department Arson Bureau and the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office on Thursday night as he was attempting to flee the scene of the latest fire. Arson Investigators from the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office have charged him with the latest fire, as it was located in unincorporated Harris County.
During this series of fires, several homes under construction have been targeted. Some of these fires burned themselves out or were quickly extinguished by responding firefighters. At least 10 homes under construction were damaged or destroyed, and losses could ultimately total in the Millions.
White previously pleaded guilty after a team of Arson Investigators from HFD, MCFMO and the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office caught him in the act of setting fires in a similar fashion in 2006. At the time of the latest fires, White was out on parole after serving prison time for violating conditions of his original plea agreement.
At this time, White has been charged in Harris County with last night’s fire. The investigation is continuing and Investigators anticipate charging White with setting additional area fires, including the largest fire in Montgomery County. That fire on Sundance Springs destroyed three homes when fire spread from the home set on fire into two adjacent structures.
For information on fires in the City of Houston, please contact Chief Alison Stein with the Houston Fire Department Arson Bureau. Montgomery County Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams stated “As soon as these fires began again, Arson Investigators worked tirelessly to bring them to an end. These fires endangered the lives of both residents and responding firefighters. Although the fires were set in homes under construction, they were often next to homes occupied by sleeping neighbors.”
The team was determined to stop these fires before someone got injured or killed. Investigators worked hand in hand throughout many nights and weeks to break this case and bring the person responsible to justice.
After intense investigation by the Montgomery County Fire Marshal, Houston Fire Marshal and the Harris County Fire Marshal it paid off.
Just before 11:30p.m. Montgomery County Fire Marshal was heard on the Sheriffs Department radio asking for Harris County backup and fire equipment for a two-story house heavily involved in flames. The person they had been watching was detained one block away.
Firefighters from Cloverleaf and Sheldon Fire Departments fought the blaze in the almost completed two story home in a brand new subdivision in the area of Lake Houston Parkway and Beltway 8.
Harris County Fire Marshals said it was too early to speculate but further arsons may be added to the man who was arrested but not identified this morning.
Several fires have destroyed homes in the Kingwood and Porter area. Kingwood is no stranger to arson. In 2006, investigators arrested Kingwood resident Matthew White who confessed to setting as many as a dozen homes on fire, causing millions of dollars worth of damage. He was given four years in Texas Department of Criminal Justice after he was arrested in 2006. he started his sentence on the multiple Felony Second Degree Arson charges on July 8, 2008 and was released on parole June 2, 2009 even though TDC had him listed as a violent offender.
The home last night was totally destroyed.
TO VIEW VIDEO CLICK ON ARROW: