Arsonist gets 20 years for setting fire to Fort Worth home with children inside

Courtesy: McClatchy Co.

An Arlington man who set a house and car in Fort Worth on fire in 2019 to try to stop children from escaping the flames has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

As part of a plea agreement, 42-year-old Courtney Smith of Arlington pleaded guilty to arson in the July 27, 2019, fire on Hulen Park Circle in Fort Worth.

A charge of attempted murder against Smith was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

The fire was set following a domestic dispute between Smith and his ex-girlfriend.

A neighbor was able to get the Fort Worth family out of the home unharmed before the fire department arrived.

Fort Worth firefighters responded at 4:30 a.m. on July 27, 2019, to a car and home on fire in the 3700 block of Hulen Park Circle.

The neighbor noticed the house fire. Inside, a 38-year-old woman and two children were asleep.

After banging on the house and yelling, the neighbor was able to wake up the occupants, who then made it safely outside, fire officials say.

The fires were put out quickly, but arson investigators determined that a total of three fires had been set intentionally.

“Specifically, the suspect was aware that the residence was occupied by children and the fires are believed to have been intentionally set in locations to prevent the occupants from readily escaping the flames,” according to a 2019 news release from the Fort Worth Fire Department.

On that day, investigators reviewed security footage, talked to witnesses and obtained five felony probable cause arrest warrants and a search warrant. Smith was then arrested the next day.

Investigators found that the arson had been followed a domestic disturbance at the home on July 26, 2019, according to the news release.