AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 25-year-old man is facing a felony arson charge and drug possession charge after he was located at the scene of a fire last Friday at a central Austin house that was under construction, according to court documents.
The Austin Fire Department responded to the fire, which was in the 3100 block of White Rock Drive, around 4:43 a.m. Sept. 2. When fire crews arrived, the house was completely engulfed in flames, and the fire was spreading to nearby residences. The fire was extinguished but caused an estimated $802,500 in damages, according to the affidavit.
Police said a man experiencing homelessness, identified by AFD as Shahram Hadivincheh, was at the scene of the fire when investigators arrived. According to the affidavit, Hadivincheh admitted he was in the house when the fire started.
KXAN reached out to an attorney connected with Hadivincheh. This story will be updated when we receive a response.
Hadivincheh told investigators he had been at a friend’s house the night before and missed his curfew for an Austin shelter, and he was riding his skateboard through the neighborhood White Rock Drive is in looking for a place to sleep when he found the house that was under construction and decided to stay there, the affidavit said. He was there for about 30 minutes before the fire started.
According to the affidavit, the man said he smelled smoke and saw a small fire at a pile of styrofoam and wood toward the back of the house, and he decided to exit through the garage, where he found some trash bags on fire. He told investigators the fire in the garage grew rapidly and started to catch the whole house on fire.
The affidavit said Hadivincheh then went to the neighbors’ house to warn them, and, at that point, the entire house was on fire. Hadivincheh admitted to investigators he had a bag in the house that had several lighters and a torch lighter in it, the affidavit said.
Investigators examined the fire scene and found several items out of place, according to the
construction crew. Investigators were able to rule out all accidental ignition sources, and
determined the fire(s) was intentionally set, and thus an act of arson
An Austin Police Department officer responded to the fire to assist AFD and talked to Hadivincheh at the scene along with an AFD arson investigator. The arson investigator asked Hadivincheh to empty his pockets, and the APD officer saw what looked like a meth pipe sticking out of his wallet, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit said Hadivincheh admitted to having meth in his backpack, which the APD officer found along with multiple broken meth pipes.
Hadivincheh was charged by APD with possession of a controlled substance as well as an arson charge filed by AFD.