Arson “definitely the case” in West Asheville

The fire that burned an unoccupied West Asheville house early Sunday morning was deliberately set, says an investigator. “I can tell you right now that’s definitely the case,” Asheville-Buncombe Arson Task Force investigator Jeff Tracz told Xpress today.

The Riverview Drive house, one of several in the neighborhood built on steel frames overhanging steep slopes, burned completely before firefighters could extinguish the blaze. Tracz says the lack of people living in the unfinished home and the fact that electricity had not yet been connected were enough to convince him that the fire had been set. “There’s no other option,” he said, but did not speculate on motive or method.

The houses, which stand on what appear to be metal stilts, sit on steel frames. The construction method is intended to reduce the cost of building and the impact on the slopes that comes with grading, said a representative of BATT Associates, developer of the homes.

“This type of development is pretty good for the city,” said Jonathan Scott. “The more density we can achieve in the city, the less burden we put on our rural areas.”

The houses, none of which has gone on the market yet, have caused a stink in the Riverview neighborhood, with some residents putting up signs opposing the construction. But Scott says that the development company has not been contacted directly to talk with neighbors.

Meanwhile, a spate of incidents of vandalism — including other arsons — has sprung up at sites like real estate offices and The Cliffs development site in Swannanoa (see the Aug. 8 issue of Xpress for details on another recent case of a sabotaged development site). Neither Tracz nor Scott are ready to speculate that environmental motives were behind the Riverview fire, but, says Scott, “If it is some sort of eco-terrorist group, I think they are picking on the wrong guy.”

— Brian Postelle, staff writer

photo by Jonathan Welch


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10 thoughts on “Arson “definitely the case” in West Asheville

  1. Still Learning

    Check out:

    for commentary on the question of whether this is eco-terrorism.

  2. Looking for Outrage

    Now would be a good time for all of those who decried this home’s construction, to decry even louder its destruction.

    Robin Cape, where are you on this? Of course this arson is not your responsibility, but you were the most exercised in speaking against this development from the Council table on “Steep Slopes Night.”

    It would show respect for rational and legal debate as the way to deal with our local development and “viewshed” issues, for you to distance yourself from this kind of activity.

    Where is Mountain Voices Alliance today?

    Where is Elaine Lite for Asheville City Council?

    How about the Mountain Xpress editorial page?

    How about Cecil and Rebecca, many of whose articles directly or indirectly oppose development of almost every type, scale, and style.

    Where’s the comment on this one?

    Where’s the outrage?

  3. I love how people get outraged about right wingers enforcing their morality, but turn a blind eye to left wingers enforcing their morality.

  4. “I love how people get outraged about right wingers enforcing their morality, but turn a blind eye to left wingers enforcing their morality.”

    So you have already decided that this fire was set by “left-wingers”? Of course there couldn’t be any other reason…My guess is that 30-40% of all fires are somehow the fault of the Left.

  5. No, what I am saying is that people who tend to exact revenge upon developers and their like in the name of the environment (which is the theory being put forth in this blog) tend to identify themselves a bit more to the left side of the political spectrum. I just said it in too concise of a way for the likes of you, I suppose.

    Now, if it turns out that this is by a group like the ones who are vandalizing property in Leicester, or vandalizing the offices of a real estate company (two things that have happened recently in this town), and the outrage isn’t at all equal to what you see on this website when the OMG FACISTS come knocking at people’s door, then there is a lot of hypocrisy going on.

    Keep in mind that I fully support the Kuhns in their case, and also really don’t like the development. But I see the two cases as the same thing: a byproduct of someone’s arrogance that results in them enforcing their morality on someone else.

    Did I explain myself enough to you, or should I make flash cards?

  6. Closing my eyes

    Anyone named “Don’t you hate pants?” shouldn’t be talking about flashing cards or anything else.

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