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Roy Moore accuser’s home catches fire: what we know

The home of one of Alabama Republican Roy Moore’s accusers burned down this week in suspected arson — authorities say it’s not related to Moore.

MONTGOMERY, AL - NOVEMBER 17: Patricia Riley Jones attends a 'Women For Moore' rally in support of Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Judge Roy Moore, in front of the Alabama State Capitol, November 17, 2017 in Montgomery, Alabama. Kayla Moore told the crowd of supporters that her husband will not bow out of the Senate race. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Patricia Riley Jones attends a “Women For Moore” rally in support of Republican candidate for US Senate Judge Roy Moore, in front of the Alabama State Capitol, November 17, 2017, in Montgomery, Alabama.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

The home of one of Alabama Republican Roy Moore’s accusers burned down this week, and an arson investigation is underway.

Tina Johnson, who accused US Senate candidate Roy Moore of grabbing her in his office in the early 1990s, told local news outlet that her home in Gadsden, Alabama, caught fire early Tuesday morning. “I am devastated, just devastated,” Johnson said on Friday. “We have just the clothes on our backs.” No one appears to have been harmed in the fire — Johnson and her husband were at work, and her grandson was at school.

Local authorities have confirmed that an investigation into the fire is underway and that investigators are speaking to a person of interest; they said they would release more details after obtaining warrants. Etowah County authorities do not believe it is at all related to Moore, who lost his bid to represent Alabama in the US Senate in December against Democrat Doug Jones, or the allegations against him.

Johnson was thrust into the spotlight late last year when she became one of multiple women to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore. She said that Moore groped her in his law office in 1991, telling the Today show’s Megyn Kelly in November that the incident had “scarred me for life.” Moore denied all of the claims against him.

Here’s a look at what we do and don’t know about the fire at Johnson’s home.

What we know

  • Neighbors and utility workers called 911 shortly after 8 am on Tuesday, January 2, to report a fire at Johnson’s home in Gadsden, Alabama. Johnson and her family lost everything they owned in the blaze.
  • The Etowah County Sheriff’s Department and Etowah County Arson Task Force are looking into the fire.
  • Sheriff’s department spokesperson Natalie Barton said a suspect of interest is being interviewed, but no charges have been filed related to the fire.
  • Neighbors reportedly witnessed a young man with “a history of public intoxication” walking around the house before and during the fire. Johnson has said she hasn’t been given information about how the fire started.
  • Local authorities have said they do not believe the fire is related to Moore or the allegations against him and will release more details when warrants are obtained.
  • When reached for comment by Vox by phone, a person working at the Etowah County Sheriff’s Department said the department has nothing to add beyond what has already been released publicly.
  • A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help Johnson rebuild her home.

What we don’t know

  • How the fire at Johnson’s home started.