— By CHRISTIN COYNE
PARKER COUNTY – Hours after investigators removed a suspected pipe bomb Monday from a home in northeast Parker County, a nearby house, believed to have been occupied by a man arrested during the investigation, was destroyed in a fire.
Parker County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a residence in the 1300 block of Oakridge Road near Azle shortly before 1 p.m. after a caller reported a pipe bomb located in a house she owned.
Another occupant of the home reportedly entered Allen’s bedroom, saw the device lying in the open on the floor and became scared, according to Parker County Fire Marshal Shawn Scott, whose office is handling the pipe bomb investigation.
After receiving consent to search the residence, law enforcement found a suspected pipe bomb in 35-year-old Jerry Dale Allen’s bedroom, along with four credit or debit cards issued to four people who were not residing in the home with Allen, Deputy Dallas Cochran wrote in a probable cause affidavit.
The suspicious object was described as a pipe with capped ends.
The Fort Worth Fire Department Bomb Squad and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms were called to assist with removing the device.
Its contents had yet to be determined Tuesday afternoon, the Parker County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Allen arrived on scene during the search and was arrested and charged with fraudulent use or possession of identifying information, a state jail felony, according to the sheriff’s office.
Allen told investigators he found the suspected explosive device, Scott said.
Scott said they were continuing to investigate the case Tuesday and intend to file charges against Allen if they can show the elements of the offense, which include intent to use the device.
Scott said making a pipe bomb is not difficult and can be done with items obtained from a home improvement store.
Investigators were also awaiting results from the Fort Worth Bomb Squad, where the device was sent to find out if it was a plausible explosive device, he added.
Less than three hours after law enforcement left the scene Monday evening, firefighters were dispatched to a fire at a house two doors down, which had also been searched Monday afternoon, according to Scott.
Allen and his wife had also been staying in the other single-wide mobile home, according to neighbors. Officials said the house belonged to an out-of-state owner.
The wife reported that she was inside the house that caught fire, collecting her belongings, when she heard a loud pop near the porch area, Scott said.
By the time firefighters arrived on scene, the fire was coming through the roof, ESD No. 1 Chief Eric Vinson said.
Firefighters from Silver Creek, La Junta, Springtown, Azle, Briar and Aledo responded and fought the fire defensively because of the quick progression of the fire, according to Vinson.
The level of damage and original disrepair of the house have made it difficult to determine the cause of the fire, Scott said, adding that it is currently being ruled undetermined.
Two neighbors told the Democrat that the residents of the burned house were known to beg food, rides and the use of a shower from others living on the street.
The men said they have feared for their safety and property in recent months because of ongoing crime in the neighborhood.