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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Investigation continues in arson

Thursday, October 3, 2002

A truck suspected of belonging to an arsonist in the Sept. 24 fire in Ash Flat is no longer believed to have been connected to the crime.

The truck, a two-tone Ford extended cab, was identified Sept. 25 by Ash Flat Deputy Tim McComas as belonging to a delivery man for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

On the morning of the fire Stephen Armstrong, 35, of 11 Oak Street, ran outside and attempted to extinguish the fire in the bed of his pickup with a water hose.

After extinguishing the flames Armstrong observed a pickup truck speeding down Highway 56 approximately one block from his home. Thinking the driver of the truck might be the person responsible for the fire, Armstrong pursued the vehicle in an attempt to obtain the license plate identification.

Unable to catch up with the vehicle, Armstrong was in the process of returning to his home when the fire apparently re-ignited, causing a gas can in the back of the truck to explode.

The rear glass of the truck burst into the cab and hit Armstrong in the head. Thompson said Armstrong had no memory of the subsequent events until he woke up after his truck struck Lawrence Swetnam's residence on Oak Street.

The delivery man told McComas Armstrong's vehicle was on fire when he passed it on Highway 56. He said he did not report the fire because it appeared Armstrong was headed into Ash Flat and he assumed the driver was going for help.

Thompson said the incident is still under investigation.

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