Roy Moore accuser Tina Johnson lost her home Wednesday in a fire that is now under investigation by the Etowah County Arson Task Force.
Tina Johnson, who first came to public notice for accusing Senate candidate Roy Moore of grabbing her in his office in the early 1990s, said her home on Lake Mary Louise Road in Gadsden caught fire Tuesday morning.
After neighbors and some utility workers called 911 shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday, the Lookout Mountain Fire Department responded to the scene. By the time the flames were extinguished, Johnson and her family had lost everything they owned.
“I am devastated, just devastated,” said Johnson on Friday morning. “We have just the clothes on our backs.”
Nobody appears to have been harmed in the blaze; Johnson and her husband were at work, and her grandson was at school.
“That fire is still under investigation by the Etowah County Arson Task Force,” said Natalie Barton, public information officer with the Etowah County Sheriff’s Department. “A suspect of interest is being spoken to. But there have been no charges, to my knowledge, related to the fire at this time.”
Barton later released a statement, saying, “The ongoing investigation does not lead us to believe that the fire is in any way related to Roy Moore or allegations made against him. More details will be released when warrants are obtained.”
According to Johnson and neighbor Kevin Tallant, other neighbors witnessed a young man who had a history of public intoxication walking around the house before and during the blaze.
“He’s been trouble in the neighborhood for a while,” said Tallant, who lives across the street from Johnson and her family. He got a call from another neighbor that morning who said smoke was coming from the home and that somebody might be inside.
“I threw on my coveralls and took off down the driveway,” he said. His wife called 911 at 8:26 a.m. but the dispatcher said they’d already received a call about the fire. “I got up there,” he said, “and (the fire) was already pretty well started. When the fire department got there, I started helping them.”
Johnson said she has not yet heard from law enforcement how or why the fire started, except that it started at the back of the house.
She said a woman neighbor told her that the young man in question approached her as she was getting in her car that morning and asked if she thought Johnson’s house was going to burn. The neighbor didn’t know what he was talking about, she said, because flames weren’t visible at the time.
Johnson and her family are currently living in a motel. On Friday morning, she was headed to Wal-Mart to purchase toiletries and other necessities. She said she is thankful for good neighbors, who have rallied around the family.
“My neighbors are just heartbroken, too,” she said. “They’re pulling together and helping us out.”
Tallant said the Johnsons are good neighbors. He’d been over at her house recently, sharing some turnip greens.
“She’s a super good neighbor,” he said. “I like people like that. I hope they build back there.”
Updated 1/5/2018 to include additional statements from the Etowah County Sheriff’s Department.