A fire Wednesday evening was the second in the same double wide mobile home in about a month and the latest of several blazes this year within a small area of the Benham community.

The Wilkes Sheriff’s Office (including Wilkes fire marshal’s office) and State Bureau of Investigation are investigating the fires.

Firefighters were dispatched about 6:20 p.m. Wednesday and found smoke pouring from the double wide at 163 Iron Wheel Road in the Austin Fire District upon their arrival.

Wilkes Fire Marshal Jeff Anderson said the fire heavily damaged a bedroom of the residence, where he said it appeared to have started. He said there was smoke and heat damage elsewhere and part of the roof collapsed.

Authorities said the fire is suspected of being arson.

The Austin, Traphill, Pleasant Hill and Ronda fire departments were dispatched initially, followed by the State Road Fire Department.

Anderson said electricity to the double wide has been off and it has been unoccupied since a fire there on May 18. He said there is insurance on the residence. The May 18 fire started in the utility room and most heavily damaged that area.

Margaret Swisher, owner and occupant of the double wide, wasn’t in the residence when the May 18 fire occurred and hasn’t been able to return since then due to the damage.

The Swisher residence is near the intersection of Iron Wheel Road and Grange Road. Within the immediate vicinity of the residence, a tobacco barn was destroyed by fire on May 17 and there have been at least three small woods fires — in early December, mid-February and late April.

Some residents of the area said they think the fires are related.

Iron Wheel Road is a dead-end road about a quarter of a mile long. Grange Road connects with Austin-Traphill Road on the east and with Austin-Little Mountain Road on the west.

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