Officials: Serial arsonist arrested after destroying historic homes

Law enforcement say they have arrested a serial arsonist responsible for three fires in one Georgia county over a month.

According to the Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, 37-year-old Ashburn resident Willie Fred Poke set three fires in Turner County between Sept. 29 and Oct. 25.

Officials say Poke is responsible for setting fire to a 119-year-old unoccupied home on the 400 block of South Main Street, a storage building on the 400 block of South Gordon Street, and a 121-year-old unoccupied home on the 300 block of South Main Street. All the buildings were in Ashburn, Georgia.

In the case of the second fire, officials say it spread to an occupied structure that injured four people.

“Due to Mr. Poke’s repeated, life-threatening actions and destruction of historic homes, this arrest was a top priority for local and state law enforcement officials,” said Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King. “I would like to applaud the investigators in my office, along with the City of Ashburn Police Department and the City of Ashburn Fire Department, for their hard work in bringing Mr. Poke to justice."

Poke has been charged with three counts of first-degree arson, three counts of first-degree burglary, two counts of criminal trespass, and four counts of aggravated assault.

He's currently in the Turner County Jail waiting for a bond hearing.