Wiley Coleman Armstrong

Vernon man charged in Bonifay arson

A Washington County man is charged with arson in connection to a vehicle fire set at All Star Tire & Performance on Highway 90 in Bonifay on February 5. Bonifay Fire and Rescue responded to the call around 2:45 a.m., observing a fully engulfed vehicle with fire extending to the building adjacent to the store. BFD Engine 1 arrived at 2:47am and began extinguishing the fire followed by Ladder 1 and Tanker 1.

66-year-old Wiley Coleman Armstrong of Vernon was arrested August 3 and charged with two counts of second-degree arson, criminal mischief, and property damage of more than $1,000 after an investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

According to fire officials, surveillance footage showed Armstrong had first attempted to set the fire several weeks before the incident, but the fire died out due to lack of sufficient oxygen. According to the investigation, he returned in the early hours of February 5, at which time a fire was successfully started, destroying a Chevrolet Tahoe parked at the shop.

Bonifay Fire Chief Travis Cook says the arrest is notable.

“You often hear that a fire is under investigation due to suspected arson, but you don’t always get to hear about an arrest,” said Chief Cook. “Arson is a difficult crime to prove, and I appreciate the hard work of the State Fire Marshal’s Office and their thorough investigation.”

The investigation is still ongoing with more charges potentially pending.

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