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Fire at Atlantic Beach mayor's house in North Carolina considered suspicious

State and local authorities in North Carolina are investigating a fire at the family home of suspended Atlantic Beach mayor Retha Pierce.

The fire was reported at 5:41 a.m. Sunday at 6299 Dothan Road in Tabor City, N.C., and it destroyed the single-story wood and brick house, said Scott Merritt, Columbus County fire marshal. The home was not occupied and no one was hurt during the incident.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation by Merritt’s office, the Columbus County Sheriff’s office and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation.

“Until all our results come back we are treating it as a suspicious fire,” Merritt said. “We’re still in the preliminary stage of the investigation.”

Pierce issued a press release on Tuesday that called the fire suspicious and stated she had been threatened. Pierce was not immediately available for comment.

In the release Pierce said: "Calling my son to tell him has been one of the most difficult things I've had to do. It was our home for over 36 years and we had plans for retirement there among our memories near family and childhood friends."

She also said the home had no electrical power to it and suspicious activity had been reported around it.

A neighbor called 911 to report the smell of wood burning in the area and soon after several calls were logged with dispatchers about the house being on fire, Merritt said.

When firefighters arrived at the home they reported a working structure fire and remained at the scene until 11:22 a.m. Sunday, Merritt said. Crews from Nakina Fire Rescue, Tabor City Fire Department and Waccamaw Fire Department in Brunswick County responded to the blaze.

Pierce along with several Atlantic Beach residents filed a $50 million lawsuit against public officials and the town earlier this month.

More details will be posted as they become available.