Authorities in Hope, Arkansas, say arson is suspected at Bill Clinton’s birthplace on Christmas Day. According to reports, the fire broke out at the house around 3:20 a.m. Christmas morning.
Hope Fire Department Chief Dale Glanton says the fire which broke out at the William J. Clinton Birthplace in the 100 block of S. Hervey St. Friday was no accident.
Hope Police Chief J.R. Wilson told reporters that the fire is under investigation, but arson is suspected.
The building, which is designated a National Historic Site and is maintained by the National Park Service, was heavily damaged in the fire.
There are no reported injuries from the Christmas Day fire. Citing a statement from Hope Fire Department Chief Dale Glanton, the fire at Bill Clinton’s childhood home was not accidental or caused by an act of God. Reportedly, some form of accelerant was used to start the fire.
“There’s just evidence and signs that we do believe it was intentionally set,” Glanton said. “It will be investigated and handled as a potential arson fire.”
In addition to what Glanton described as “extensive damage” on the outside of the house, there is also smoke and water damage.
Among the evidence, according to Hope Police Chief J.R. Wilson, is graffiti on the sidewalk leading up to a door on the East side of the house, as well as on the door itself. Wilson said this is near where the fire appears to have initially been set, and that there was “a strong odor of accelerant.”
The graffiti consists of the number 55 scrawled in black spray paint on the concrete walkway and what appears to be a frowning face with an “X” for each eye and a frown with a tongue sticking out. While the intended message isn’t necessarily known, 55 can mean “ha ha” in texting shorthand.
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The building was once owned by the former president’s grandparents where Clinton lived after his father died in a tragic car accident.
It was at this home Clinton stayed with his widowed mother for the first four years of his life.
“This is a very important structure and house inside the city of Hope,” Wilson said. “It’s got a lot of historical value to it and stuff here, and like I said, it’s really historical piece of property in Hope…we really want to protect it and do the best job that we can do.”
The building suffered damage to the outer structure, as well as water and smoke damage on the inside of the property.
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