Fairfield house set ablaze to disguise another crime

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Fairfield Police say a massive house fire that broke out Tuesday afternoon was intentionally set.

Fairfield Deputy Chief Leon Davis said Wednesday the home of David and Mandy Deter was burglarized before it was set on fire around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Deters and their three children were away on a beach vacation when the fire started.

Deter, a hospice pastor, came home after neighbors called him with the news. When asked for his response to the news that the fire was the work of arsonist, Deter became emotional. "Did I know the person? Did I let them into my house?" Deter asked choking up. "That's hurtful. Makes you vulnerable. As far as being part of the community and loving everyone so much."

The house, which sits on the corner of 43rd Street and Lloyd Noland Parkway, was built in the early 1900s. The Deters moved into the home five years ago. He said he just wanted to be part of a community and three years ago, he and his wife started a community garden.

Neighbors praised the work of the Deters,saying the garden had brought the community together.  Now they said it was their turn to help a family who had helped the area so much.

"Even the kids have said we've got toys and clothes to give to the boys," neighbor Sarah Pemberton said.  "So we're already thinking of ways to chip in and help."

Fire officials say it will take four to six weeks before tests come back showing what type of accelerant was used to set the blaze.  Officials were looking for a suspect.