Little Rock, Arkansas – Former President Bill Clinton’s childhood home in Hope, Arkansas, suffered a minor damage caused by a blaze early Friday. Authorities say they are treating the case as a suspected arson, since investigators smelled an accelerant at the scene and found graffiti painting a large frown with a protruding tongue on the exterior of a door, as well as the number “55” painted in black in a walkway, maybe referring to a text messaging abbreviation for “haha.” The house was designated as a national Historic Site in 2011.
“It looks like that [the fire] was started intentionally at this time,” as told to Shreveport, La., station KSLA by Hope Fire Department Chief Dale Glanton. “So it will be investigated and handled as a potential arson fire.”
A passing motorist reported the blaze at the Clinton Birthplace at 3:17 a.m., according to J.R. Wilson, police chief of the southwestern Arkansas City. The flames were shooting 8 feet into the air on one side of the house when firefighters arrived shortly after the motorist reported the incident.
Wilson said the structure suffered minor damages because the fire department extinguished the blaze quickly and only one room was affected by the fire, as reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He added that the National Park Service is investigating the actual cause of the fire while officials gather video from surveillance cameras. According to a spokesperson for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a fire investigator should arrive on Saturday and the FBI also offered assistance to local authorities.
Home’s superintendent Tarona Armstrong said the house will be temporarily closed and the extent of damages will be made public once the investigation is completed. The structure also suffered smoke and water damage during the blaze.
Skip Rutherford, dean of the University Of Arkansas Clinton School Of Public Service and an old friend of Clinton’s, told CNN that the building will be restored again just like it has been restored before.
Bill Clinton lived in the house for four years after his birth in 1946, according to Arkansas’ state website. He then moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas, but still visited the home frequently before his grandfather Eldridge Cassidy passed away when the president was 7 years old.
Source: Washington Post