Fire officials: Blaze at Smith Co. business appears 'suspicious' - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Fire officials: Blaze at Smith Co. business appears 'suspicious'


Smith County fire investigators are calling a fire that broke out at Belcher's Auto Ranch in Smith County on Sunday afternoon "suspicious." The business, which is located on Farm to Market Road 850 just outside of Tyler, was destroyed by the blaze. 

Leroy Belcher, the owner of the business, says Belcher's Auto Ranch had been closed for years. The business was opened in 1970, supplying Smith County residents with used car parts for over three decades. 

According to Smith County Fire Marshal Jim Seaton, the fire started in the office area and no accidental cause has been found yet. There was no electricity to the side of the building where the fire broke out, so investigators do not believe the fire was caused by electricity. While Seaton is not ready to call the incident arson at this point, anyone who may have seen anything suspicious on Sunday afternoon is asked to call the fire marshal's office.

Officials say no one was inside any of the buildings when the fire started.

Chapel Hill, Jackson, Winona, and Whitehouse Fire Departments all responded to the fire. ETMC sent two units to the scene and the Smith County Sheriff's Office and Tyler Police Department assisted in blocking off FM 850 while firefighters got the flames under control.

Family members say the fire caused more than $50,000 in damage.

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