CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- First a fight, then a fire. Tonight, Carolina Beach Police and the SBI are investigating a suspicious house fire. Right before the fire broke out, a fight broke out between the man who rents this house and the man who works at the minimart next door. The two men say they were fighting tuesday over a mailbox they shared.
"I beat him up on the side of the road right there in front of about 10 or 12 people," said fire victim Steward Angle. "He was embarrassed, and now look at my house. It's burnt down."
Angle left to go to work, and hours later, at about 9 p.m., he got a call that his house on Carolina Beach Avenue North was on fire. His girlfriend and their two-year-old son were inside. Katie Kelly says she just happened to get out of bed to go to the bathroom.
"Went in my living room to turn my TV off and my DVD player, and by that point my house was already filled with smoke," Kelly said. "Flames were coming from underneath my carpet and my wall. My carpet was already melting at that point."
Angle and Kelly say they have had altercations with the Midway Minimart employees in the past. They think the store owner's fiance Ron Gist started the fire. Gist says it wasn't him.
"We were sitting on the couch when the neighbors and the kids got us off of the couch," Gist said. "It's a really bad situation. I hate it for them. If I could help them in any way I'd be more than glad to, and I really hate the fact that they think I may have had something to do with it."
Gist says Angle and Kelly's house has caught on fire before and he helped put it out. He says he had nothing to do with starting either one.
"They've got a lot more things they should be worrying about than creating more drama and more altercations, but it'll all come out," Gist said.
The Carolina Beach Fire Department says it could take a couple days to figure out how the fire started.