Woman charged with arson, attempted murder after fire

Published 4:46 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

By By Lydia Grimes
news reporter

Four Brewton residents were sleeping in their beds as a fire spread through their Spruce Avenue home early Monday morning — and a Brewton woman was arrested and charged Tuesday with attempted murder and first-degree arson in the incident.
Ricky Sims was injured in the blaze, which began around 2:30 a.m. and destroyed most of the house, Fire Chief Lawrence Weaver said.
The four occupants of the house — Sims and his wife Vicky, their daughter Ashley Cooley and Ashley’s daughter — had escaped the fire.
Cooley said her father wanted to make sure everyone was out of the house.
Cooley said doctors have told the family that Sims will likely be hospitalized for six to eight weeks.
Fire officials immediately suspected the fire could be arson, Weaver said.
A grand jury on Tuesday indicted Toshanna Hammac Fore, 30, of South Forty Lane, on charges of first-degree arson, first-degree criminal mischief and attempted murder.
Brewton Police Sgt. Steven Ferguson said that when he responded to the house fire on Spruce Avenue, Fore was still on the scene.
Sgt. Bryan Davis, who is also with the Brewton Police Department, followed up on the investigation and spoke to witnesses who had heard Fore threaten to set the car on fire, Ferguson said. Fore’s boyfriend was the father of Cooley’s daughter, and there was bad blood between Fore and Cooley, Ferguson said.
Ferguson said that when the state fire marshal finished his investigation, the fire was deemed not an accident nor an act of God but was a case of arson.
Deputy State Fire Marshal Ken Smith along with members of the fire department was sifting through the ashes Monday afternoon to determine the cause of the fire. “It’s not quite as easy as it appears on television,” Smith said of the investigation.
Neighbors said Vickie Sims told them she was awakened by popping sounds in the kitchen and discovered the kitchen area in flames Monday morning. She quickly woke the others in the house so they could escape and call firefighters.
Weaver praised the firefighters who were called out to the scene early Monday morning.