After 23-year-old Jeremy Ferguson was evicted from his home in Mesa del Caballo last week, investigators from the Gila County Sheriff's Department said Monday, he allegedly returned and set fire to the mobile home.
Ferguson was arrested Saturday and was booked into Gila County Jail on charges of arson, burglary and criminal damage.
According to the property manager, Ferguson had been living in the trailer at the corner of Caballero and Barranca roads for three months with his girlfriend and their child.
When the couple was evicted June 1, they left behind Ferguson's clothing, some personal effects and baby clothes, investigators said. When the trailer was cleaned out after the eviction, those items were thrown away, and investigators think Ferguson set the trailer on fire in retaliation. Investigators said they think Ferguson returned to the Mesa del property alone the night of June 12 and lit a fire that destroyed the mobile home.
One neighbor who witnessed the burning mobile said he immediately suspected the cause of the fire was arson.
"One minute, there was no fire ... the next minute, the building was completely involved at both ends," said Mike Fader, a neighbor whose two-story home overlooks the block. "I've seen a lot of fires. I've never seen one go up as fast as this one did."
Fire crews from Mesa del Caballo, Payson and Whispering Pines fought the fire, and although the trailer was a total loss, they were able to prevent the fire from spreading to neighboring houses.
Investigators said they think Ferguson was living at a makeshift campsite on a ridge along Houston Mesa Road at the time of his arrest.
He was arrested as he returned to Payson from Heber. He remains in custody in lieu of a $120,000 bond.