Arrest in arson: Man charged with setting fire to ex's vehicle, house

Photo by Michael Buckelew

Photo by Michael Buckelew

COVINGTON -- An Alabama man who allegedly set a vehicle and house on fire in the Enclave subdivision off Fairview Road on Thursday morning in an effort to take revenge on his former girlfriend is under arrest, according to Newton County Fire Service Deputy Chief Tim Smith.

Anthony Dewight Crawford, 37, of 914 Zellers Ave., Auburn, Ala., is awaiting extradition to Covington from an Alabama jail after being charged with arson in the first degree, criminal damage to property in the second degree and terroristic threats and acts.

The garage of the house at 230 Barshay Drive caught fire after a 2004 Dodge Caravan was set afire in the driveway about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, Smith said. Damage was also incurred at the house next door at 240 Barshay Drive from "radiant heat," Smith said.

"The house was occupied by five residents at the time of the fire," Smith said -- two adults and five children. "Everybody was in the bed. They were awakened to a large brick hitting the back of the residence, and they observed a male subject running from the scene. About the same time, their neighbor was banging on the door saying the car in the driveway was on fire in the front yard."

Smith said when the owner of the house saw the car on fire, she called 911. After NCFS firefighters extinguished the blaze, the cause was determined to be deliberate.

"In the meantime, the homeowner is receiving threatening phone calls from an ex-boyfriend," Smith said. Fire investigators were still on the scene and were able to listen to the phone calls via her phone's speaker system, he said.

"He admitted to setting the car on fire," Smith said.

Smith said he learned the former boyfriend was from Alabama and he contacted the Auburn Police Department and asked if they would go to Crawford's home and see if he was there.

"They spoke with a man who said (Crawford) was in Georgia visiting a friend," Smith said. "That confirmed he was here, plus he admitted to setting the fire while we were listening."

He was arrested Friday without incident, Smith said.

Extensive damage was done to the home's garage and Smith said the vehicle is a total loss.

Smith said the incident stemmed from the fact that the Barshay Drive resident and the suspect broke up two months ago.