AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man was arrested after the Austin Fire Department said a number of fires were intentionally set over the weekend. AFD said John Adam Henry, 42, may be connected to at least 15 cases, and it is working on filing additional charges.
Right now, Henry faces a felony two Arson charge related to a fire at 2728 S. Congress Ave. He does not have an attorney listed online at this time.
Austin Fire crews responded to a fire at a bar on South Congress Avenue early Sunday morning, in what officials said appeared to have been intentionally set. AFD said it was one of a series of fires arson investigators looked into between Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
According to an arrest affidavit related to the restaurant fire at 2728 S. Congress Ave., Henry could be seen on surveillance video with a handheld torch lighter trying to light different parts of the patio, including a ceiling fan and fence. Those lights extinguished by themselves.
Officers ended up arresting Henry near 3630 S. Congress Ave. after a caller reported seeing him there, according to the affidavit. When he was being arrested, Henry stated he had drugs in his front left pocket, which officers found and recognized as methamphetamine.
The affidavit said when searching Henry, officers found four torch-style lighters and Zippo lighter fluid. When asked by fire investigators why he lit the fires, Henry told them he didn’t know, the affidavit said.
Crews arrived at Crow Bar at 3116 S. Congress Ave. around 4:30 a.m. and found an exterior deck completely involved in the fire, according to AFD. The fire spread to the building and caused “extensive damage.”
“This is an entrepreneur that works very hard every single day,” said Cliff Martinez, who co-owns the flower shop next to Crow Bar. “He is always hustling. His employees are always hustling, and they just got the rug ripped out from under them.”
He said his surveillance video shows the man who he believes police arrested trying to light the flowers outside of his shop on fire shortly before Crow Bar went up in flames.
“And he has a lighter and he’s trying to light the flowers on fire. Well, they’re all wet — they’re not gonna burn,” he said. “It was senseless, meaning it could be any one of us. He was out here trying to light my flowers on fire. What if he tried to light something else on fire? I could be just like the Crow Bar too right now.”
The Crow Bar fire was limited to the building, but some neighboring homes were filled with smoke.
On Sunday, fire officials said several fires overnight appeared to have been intentional:
- Crow Bar
- Vacant commercial structure in the 4200 block of S. First St.
- Approximately 15 grass, trash and dumpster fires set off in similar area
AFD officials said the department’s arson division will continue to investigate the fire and release more information as it becomes available.
Henry is listed as being in custody in the Travis County Jail. AFD said he was booked Sunday night.