House fire sends shock waves in Freeport neighborhood

Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 10:31 AM CDT
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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A Freeport man has been charged with arson and animal cruelty after officials say he allegedly set his home on fire intentionally.

On Wednesday night at 9:00 p.m., officials from Walton County Fire Rescue (WCFR), South Walton Fire District, North Bay Fire District, and Elgin Air Force Base Fire and Emergency Services all responded to a dispatch reporting a structure fire.

“Our crews arrived shortly after,” said Austin Pugh, Assistant Fire Chief of Walton County Fire Rescue. “They found a large fire coming from the Bravo, Charlie corner of the backside of where the master bedroom was.”

According to the release, fire officials fought the massive fire for over an hour before it was under control, and prevented it from spreading to nearby homes. Unfortunately, firefighters discovered a dog had been found dead in the home.

“The firefighters were able to protect the adjacent homes of the north and south side of the residence that was on fire,” Pugh said.

Another dog escaped, though.

“At least one of the dogs was able to get out of the house,” said Lieutenant Bart Smith of the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. “We don’t know how. One of the dogs did come out, the other one was deceased.”

Walton County Sheriff’s Office reported they responded to the home with Walton County Fire Rescue, and evacuated the nearby homes. Deputies say the engulfed home’s owner, 46-year-old Kevin Powell, was behaving very erratically.

“The homeowner was acting pretty erratically,” Smith said.

Deputies say at one point, Powell took tools from one of WCFR’s fire engines and used it to damage his vehicle.

“At some point he was able to climb up on one of the fire apparatuses, take a tool off that fire engine, and started smashing the windows out of his own truck,” Smith said.

Officials say Powell was detained for his own safety and allegedly admitted to setting his own house on fire. They report Powell said he spread ammunition around the inside of the home, locked his two dogs in a closet and lit the floor outside of it on fire. Authorities said one dog was able to escape.

While in custody, deputies said Powell was verbally abusive and continually made attempts to get out of his handcuffs. He was charged with second-degree arson and animal cruelty, and transported to Walton County Jail.

Some neighbors we spoke to said they are feeling a range of emotions from sadness to anger.

Hammock Bay House Fire
Hammock Bay House Fire(Walton County Fire Rescue)
Hammock Bay House Fire
Hammock Bay House Fire(Walton County Fire Rescue)

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