Investigators rule arson in two fires north of Bruce; find origin of deadly Gauley fire

By JOEL McNEECE
Three large fires in three nights in Calhoun County last week resulted in the death of a woman in the Gauley Community and two arson investigations.


Kayrean Brooks, 36, was killed in the 3:30 a.m. fire on Saturday, March 26 that completely destroyed her family’s double-wide trailer on CR 308 in the Gauley Community, just west of Calhoun City. Elbie Wayne Hill, narrowly escaped the fire, suffering significant cuts to his arm and hand.
Calhoun Sheriff’s Deputy Dean Poynor, who is also the county’s arson investigator, said Brooks awakened Hill alerting him the home was on fire. Hill kicked out a window and jumped out and began trying to help Brooks out the window when she turned around and went back to get something.
Hill then re-entered the trailer to try and get her but couldn’t find her, Poynor said.
Their two children were staying with a grandmother in Grenada County the night of the fire.
firestory3State fire marshals joined Poynor at the scene on Monday where their preliminary investigation indicated the fire started in the same room where Brooks had been ironing clothes earlier, Sheriff Billy Mac Gore said.
The night before and the night after, there were two large fires north of Bruce involving empty homes. Both occurred between 3:30 and 4:30 a.m. Both have been ruled arson by state investigators.
Friday, March 25, a trailer owned by Jim Earl Aron, directly across Highway 9 from Antioch Baptist Church was engulfed by fire. The trailer was empty and had no power hooked up to it.
Sheriff Gore said investigators determined “gasoline had been poured from one end to the other.”
Aron placed an ad in this edition of The Journal offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest of the person responsible.
Another late night fire claimed an empty house farther north on Hwy. 9 Sunday, March 27.
The fire was reported by a passer-by on Hwy. 9 around 4 a.m. When Bruce, Banner and Chickenbone firefighters arrived on scene the home was totally engulfed by flames.
Tommy Coleman of Noxapater had recently purchased the house from Danny Joe Barefield.
Sheriff Gore said both parties had property in the house as Barefield was still moving items out and Coleman had begun moving some things in.
firestory2No one was at the house at the time of the fire. Gore said investigators ruled it was also ignited by a heavy dousing of gasoline.
He said they suspect one person is responsible for both fires.
“We are encouraging the public to really pay attention to any vehicle they see after midnight,” Gore said. “If they see anything that remotely looks suspicious, call us. Please get a description of the vehicle or a tag number of any suspicious vehicles.”

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