HARRIS COUNTY, Texas -- A suspected arsonist was handcuffed and hauled off to jail early Friday after a fire at a feed store that killed several animals, authorities said.
Ernesto Turrubiartes, 44, is accused of setting fire to a business located next his former place of work. The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office said Turrubiartes was taken into custody overnight and is in the county jail.
It was around 9 p.m. Thursday when the fire broke out at a feed store on Beaumont Highway near CE King Parkway in east Harris County. Firefighters from both Crosby and Sheldon responded to the blaze and found heavy flames coming from the store.
Firefighters were able to quickly get the fire knocked out but not before it damaged a major portion of the store and killed a dog and several birds.
“We have three witnesses who have come forward and said that they saw a person running from this area with a red gas can,” said Lt. Dean Hensley with the fire marshal’s office. “So we are investigating that.”
Investigators were soon led to Turrubiartes, who was recently fired from the radiator shop next door to the feed store. He was let go because employees felt he was trouble.
“He was always drunk. All the time, he drink,” said Felix Escobedo.”
Escobedo says, in addition to the drinking, Torres was giving away scrap to collectors so he was told to stay away.
“Well he left just a little bit mad,” Escobedo said.
Investigators believe Turrubiartes’ anger grew and he wanted revenge. The radiator shop owner thinks his business was the intended target, but the steel and concrete construction saved his business, but the neighboring feed store got the bulk of the damage.
Turrubiartes was taken into custody overnight and is in the county jail. The woman who sold the radiator shop to the current owner seven years ago hopes he can rebuild. “It’s real sad, that somebody’s revenge can destroy something that somebody worked hard to have,” Francis Roe said. “This boy has done a lot, he’s worked real hard.” Turrubiartes was charged with arson and is in jail on a $20,000 bond.