Charges related to fire at George Bush Park filed

Lonnie Ray Henderson, 30, is accused of with impersonating a public servant, a felony charge

September 16, 2011 4:25:19 PM PDT
Charges have been filed following the third fire at George Bush Park in west Houston this week. The most recent fire happened overnight. Lonnie Ray Henderson, 30, did not confess to starting any fires, but the Harris County District Attorney's Office did accept the charge of impersonating a public servant filed against him.

Henderson was seen riding an ATV in the "hot zone" of the most recent fire at the park in west Houston. Investigators say he was found with full fire gear, including a Houston Fire Department helmet and a pair of gloves. He He even had a radio trying to talk to HFD's dispatch. Authorities questioned him and say his story didn't line up, which is what led to the third-degree felony charge.

"It's really crazy to think someone would do it on purpose. I can't think about why they would do that 'cause it spreads and George Bush Park is huge," said Sean Tajiopour, who could see the overnight blaze from his home's balcony.

The park grounds are cracked and parched and are easily accessible to the public. Houston Fire Department officials won't say how they believe the fire started, but will say this week's fires look suspicious.

"You come out here to an area like this that has no reason to ignite -- there's no machinery, no equipment, no people, there's nothing out here to set it on fire. We haven't had any lightning strikes, and you have three or four fires that are not associated with each other; we know clearly that this fire last night is not associated with any of the two previous fires," Houston Fire Department Chief Danny Snell said.

The overnight fire burned an estimated 27 acres. On Tuesday, a fire at a different part of the park burned about 1,500 acres.

The reality of arson is distressing to this neighbor who prepared to evacuate during both fire this week.

"It's tough to think that someone would do it because that would hurt a lot of people. You would lose all your valuables and look at the fires that's going on up north and people are losing everything. You can have insurance but insurance doesn't pay for everything," neighbor Chris Michel said.

Arson investigators are still looking into this and the other two fires that burned at George Bush Park this week.

Henderson remains a person of interest in the fires. They say that this is an active case and they are pursuing other charges.

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