Nacogdoches Sheriff's Office investigates Garrison-area fire

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - What's left of two houses on the Hart property is barely smoldering. The structures were quite a distance from one another. Both burned to the ground leaving little behind.

Firefighters with Appleby VFD and Garrison VFD, as well as deputies, responded to the call at 6:50 p.m. Sunday, on County Road 166.

"We really don't know what caused the fires to initiate," said Nacogdoches County Sheriff Thomas Kerss.

The fire burned about 50 acres, but fire lanes kept it from spreading to nearby oil and gas wells. Just one of many sitting on thousands of acres were protected.

The rights are registered to the family's patriarch, Max Hart Jr. He was shot and killed during the 1990s. The shooting was ruled self-defense.

Hart once lived in one of the houses with his wife. The fires were reported by their son, Tony Hart. According to Kerss, Hart said he lived in the other house until moving out a couple of months ago.

"At this point, it's all speculation. We don't have enough to go on to even say whether or not there's arson at play here," said Kerss.

Kerss is wanting to talk to Max Hart's other children from a previous marriage. Their criminal record adds to the Harts' reputation around Garrison. Talking to them will help authorities determine property ownership.

"We have to verify by the actual owners of the structures that they didn't set the fire themselves intentionally and purposely burn the properties to the ground," said Kerss. "We're not trying to suggest that is the case, but we have to verify that."

Tony Hart denied an interview. When he was asked if anyone could be mad at him, he quietly replied "My name is Hart and you know what that means around here."

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