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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Ash Flat man injured in arson

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

An early morning arson Sept. 24 resulted in serious injuries to an Ash Flat man and damage to a home and a vehicle.

According to Special Agent Mack Thompson with the Arkansas State Police, Stephen Armstrong, 35, of 11 Oak Street in Ash Flat was awakened around 4:30 a.m. by his dogs barking and discovered a fire in the bed of his pickup truck.

Armstrong ran outside and attempted to extinguish the fire 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, causing a head injury.

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.

Thompson said Armstrong stated he stumbled across the street to Marty and Teresea Goodwin's residence and awoke them seeking help. The Goodwins were able to evacuate the Swetnams from their home and alert the Ash Flat Fire Department.

When the fire department arrived Armstrong's vehicle was fully engulfed and the west end of Swetnam's home was ablaze. Firefighters said the fire was extremely hot and broke through the roof of the home in a short period of time. They praised the Goodwins for their heroic efforts.

Thompson said Armstrong's vehicle traveled several hundred feet before hitting the Swetnam's home.

Armstrong was transported to Eastern Ozarks Regional Hospital where he received treatment for burns to the back of his hands and lacerations to his head.

Thompson said authorities are looking for a two-tone Ford extended cab pickup truck manufactured in the late 1980s or 90s. It is unknown if the vehicle was actually involved in the incident, but authorities hope to question the driver in an attempt to find out if the driver observed anything at the Armstrong home.

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