Investigators have ruled the cause of Tuesday’s house fire at 602 Stonewall Drive in Front Royal as arson.
On Friday afternoon, police arrested 73-year-old Fontella Fewell on an arson charge of burning an occupied dwelling. Fewell is being held without bond at the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail, said Warren County Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico.
Maiatico and Fire Chief Richard Mabie on Wednesday both initially said the fire appeared to be accidental but the investigation was ongoing.
“After multiple interviews with witnesses, the occupant and others in a collaborative investigation with Front Royal police, the cause of the fire was determined not to be accidental but a case of arson,” Maiatico said Friday.
They interviewed Fewell but Maiatico declined to discuss what Fewell said.
Investigators consulted with the commonwealth’s attorney and then charged Fewell.
Clayton Estes rented the home that was burned and was its only occupant. The fire did about $100,000 in damage,
Fewell was with Estes on Tuesday evening, watching as firefighters responded to the fire. At that time she told the Northern Virginia Daily she was the person who called Estes, who has said he was not at home at the time and told him of the fire.
Maiatico said the investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to contact either Maiatico at 540-636-3830 or Detective Marc Ramey at the Front Royal Police Department at 540-636-2208.