State Fire Marshal confirms fatal Lawrence County fire was intentional

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TRINITY, Ala. (WHNT) – State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk tells WHNT News 19 that a fire that claimed the life of a man in Lawrence County was intentionally set.

The body of 67-year-old Azrel Stovall was recovered from the home on Highway 20, deemed a total loss.

Paulk says that while the investigation is ongoing, their preliminary investigation concluded the fire was set on purpose. He says whether an accelerant (such as gas) was used will not be disclosed, until it’s used in court as evidence.

“We are fairly confident it’s arson,” said Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell.

Deputies guarded the property around the clock through the Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday. The home remained taped off, but Sheriff Mitchell says he is sure investigators have gathered all they need.

Wednesday night around nine, deputies responded to the home for a domestic dispute.

“It was between [Azrel] and his wife [Susie],” said Sheriff Mitchell. “That wasn’t totally uncommon; they had had disputes before.”

Stovall’s brother, Sanford, confirms this, saying his brother’s marriage was rocky and officers were called multiple times.

“He got a restraining order to keep her away from here,” said Sanford.

When deputies responded, Mrs. Stovall was nowhere to be found, and Mr. Stovall assured deputies everything was okay.

“They left,” explained Sheriff Mitchell. “And only got a few miles away when a call came back out about a fire. They responded back out and when they got here the house was fully engulfed in flames.”

Mrs. Stovall appeared at the house at the time of the fire, and she was arrested on unrelated charges for failure to appear from a previous domestic dispute the couple had.

Officials say they are now waiting on forensics to come back. A murder charge is possible for the person charged for the fatal fire.