NEW INFO: Owner Speaks Out About Faith Home Set On Fire

Eight people are now homeless after a fire at a transitional home shortly before noon Thursday displacing the men who lived there who are trying to transition back into society after being in jail or having substance abuse history.

Investigators say the fire was set intentionally, and the owner wonders: why?

"I'm thinking that somebody that maybe I have helped may have started the fire. I'm not certain, but this is what it seems like and that's the hurtful thing," said owner Bishop Arizona Hartsfield

The Faith Home was Hartsfield's idea after having a rocky childhood.

"I was homeless when I was three years old because my mother died when I was young so I went from one uncle and aunt to another so i know the feeling of really being homeless because i have experienced it myself," said Hartsfield.

Now the retired school teacher of thirty years finds himself homeless once again.

Anthony Oxendine has lived at the Faith House just one week. He was shocked when he came home after work.

"My room was one of the rooms that caught on fire that got sprayed with water so everything we got -our TV and VCR , pictures- that's our livelihood. It's burnt up," said Oxendine.

None of the men were home at the time of the fire, so they are happy to be safe and that the Faith Home pet dog, Hercules, was rescued.

"I was talking to one of the occupants and he said we have a dog in the front left room, and I said: you do? We will send somebody in, and he said the door is locked. So we used an outside door and pried it open and Hercules came running out a cheerful dog and the room was smoky so he was happy to get out," said Fire Captain Wayne Harris.

Bishop Hartsfield says a fire won't stop him from helping those who are trying to get back on their feet. Some of the residents were placed in another home owned by Bishop Hartsfield and some of the men were helped by the Red Cross.

Hartsfiled says now he will try to gather help from the community to repair all the damage caused by the blaze and reopen Faith Home as soon as possible.

A fire this morning that caused extensive damage to a transitional home has been ruled as intentionally set.

Fire broke out just after 11 a.m. at Faith House, at the corner Dickinson Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. Smoke was coming out of the attic windows of the three story Victorian home.

No one was hurt at the Christian-based transitional home, as the bishop and seven men who lived there had already left to perform various activities for the day.

Battalion Chief Shannon Terry tells WITN that investigators found two points of origin for the fire and that Greenville police are now handling the case. The fire began in a first floor back bedroom.

The home is for substance abuse or formerly incarcerated men who are transitioning back into society. There is a second home next door that was not damage and some of those displaced by today's fire will be relocated there.

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  • by Gray on Apr 15, 2011 at 09:11 PM
    Let me reiterate what has also been stated. Bishop Hartsfield opened this home for all races and religions. So as a people (not black nor white) I state as a People of Greenville we should join him in fixing this home up. This home has housed as many whites as blacks. So let's leave race at the door and join him in fixing the home. I am grabbing my gloves, mops and brooms, Please join me!!!!
  • by Murphy on Apr 15, 2011 at 03:43 AM
    This is a prime opportunity for the African American community to step up and help some of their neighbors. I hope they see this as something they can do positive for their community. Miss Rose and Miss Kandie are you up to this task?
    • reply
      by One community on Apr 15, 2011 at 12:24 PM in reply to Murphy
      Murphy, you are correct that the African-American community ought to get involved in the effort but then so should we all, regardless of our race. This is, after all, our community and the people affected are our people. The more these men gain positive support and move beyond their struggles and become productive, proud members of society, so too do we all benefit. We all can help. Thanks.
      • reply
        by Gray on Apr 15, 2011 at 09:11 PM in reply to One community
        well said and Thank you
  • by Anonymous Location: Jax on Apr 14, 2011 at 05:22 PM
    Curious: The mentality you seem to portray in writting is that same attitude that keeps handicapped or "mentally Challenged" from learning to become "full" members of society.
  • by to Annonymous and Curious Location: Greenville on Apr 14, 2011 at 04:51 PM
    Yes, there is Zoning regulation on more than 3 unrelated people living together. The loop hole? It is probably because the owner occupied the house.
  • by jpm Location: washington on Apr 14, 2011 at 02:08 PM
    It really does not matter how many people were living there...just that fortunately there was not anyone in the home and no one was harmed in this fire today
    • reply
      by lee on Apr 14, 2011 at 05:46 PM in reply to jpm
      So true. This is something to be thankful for. We need to focus on the important part and not zoning regulations or whatever.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 14, 2011 at 12:58 PM
    To Curious - No.
  • by Curious Location: Greenville on Apr 14, 2011 at 12:26 PM
    Isn't there an ordinance in Greenville that no more than 3 unrelated people can live in the same place?
    • reply
      by EBF on Apr 14, 2011 at 12:59 PM in reply to Curious
      It's a group home. We do have those in Greenville.
  • by Jeremy on Apr 14, 2011 at 11:51 AM
    This is the Jacob W. Higgs House, a locally designated historic landmark.
  • by JS Location: gville on Apr 14, 2011 at 10:51 AM
    I work near by and that place was a dilapitated and in dire need of some work for a "historic" home. I'm all for the upkeep and restoration of historic homes but it has to be kept up. Sorry to hear that it was destoyed with the fact that it was trying to help better the area. That whole area from Dickonson to the river is bad news
    • reply
      by Joe on Apr 15, 2011 at 10:50 AM in reply to JS
      No kidding. Most 'historical' houses are maintained and look as if they did the day they were completed. The 'historical' homes, if that's what you want to call them, here are wrecks that should be torn down. Instead of preserving the historical houses in Greenville the landlords have let them be over run, and that wonderful Greenville City Council would rather give handouts to certain groups in this community, let who knows what go on in certain parts of the city, and support JUNK such as revitalizing areas that will be run down AGAIN in the next 5-10 years than actually restore homes and beautify this city.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 14, 2011 at 10:28 AM
    With all the empty property in that area - surely someone will let them stay in a house until they can get another one! Come on folks.

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