DEL CITY, Okla. – An apparent feud between homeowners led to an alleged arsonist setting fire to her neighbor’s home, and the alleged crime was caught on cameras that she owned.
“She caught herself on camera setting the fire,” said Chief Brandon Pursell, with the Del City Fire Department.
On Monday, Del City fire officials released images from surveillance video shot with the alleged arsonist’s own camera.
Around 2:45 p.m. on June 10, Del City firefighters were called to a house fire. They were able to knock down the huge flames in the garage by fighting the fire from the perimeter of the house.
“We knew it was a condemned house,” Pursell said.
Once the flames were out, officials said fire investigators took a closer look. Del City investigators learned there was a feud between the burnt home’s owner and the lady living next door.
“Things started adding up, being suspicious,” Pursell said.
Investigators noticed the woman had cameras in the area next to her neighbor. She gave consent for investigators to look at the password-protected recorded footage.
Thanks to help from the Oklahoma City Police Department, Del City fire officials found pictures of 59-year-old Annie Durham allegedly throwing something on fire over her fence into the neighbor’s open side door.
“It’s not a Molotov cocktail, but it’s a stick with a rag or towel wrapped around it. It had some lighter fluid poured on it,” Pursell said.
News 4 actually spoke with Durham on June 10 after the fire had been put out.
“All I know is I was in the house, and I saw smoke but I was like, ‘okay, maybe everything is okay. They will put it out or whatever,'” she said.
Fire officials were anxious to get a look at the person in News 4’s video.
“We knew that there was a neighbor that did an interview with you all, trying to place that person with who was seen in the surveillance footage. And, by looking at both of them, it does appear that that is the same person,” Pursell said.
Del City fire officials said Durham has been charged with second-degree arson and has been booked into the Oklahoma County Jail.
Neighbors tell KFOR that the burnt house had been home to drug addicts and vagrants. They said police and fire crews had been to the house multiple times over the years.
Durham said she has lived in her home 30 years and claims the house was a problem, the only one in the area.
“There has been drug addicts living there, running in and out. This is the only drug house I know that has ever been,” she said the day for the fire.
Fire officials said fighting the fire could have been a disaster. When they finally entered the house, they found a flooded basement with eight feet of standing water.
“It placed our firefighters at great harm. We could easily be talking about a firefighter fatality,” Pursell said. “We understand the neighborhood dispute, but you definitely don’t resort to fire as a means of conflict resolution.”