LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) — One man pled guilty to charges from a 2021 arson in Opelika that caused a large explosion and forced a family to evacuate through a second-story window, according to The Lee County District Attorney’s Office.
Frederick Ashmore is sentenced to life in prison on one count of first degree arson, three counts of attempted murder and one count of first degree domestic violence.
At around 5 a.m. on Feb. 18, 2021, the Opelika Fire Department responded to a building fire at Pinehurst Apartments.
Upon arrival, firefighters found building 1300 engulfed in flames.
One victim told Opelika Police that she was asleep with her two children when they were awoken by the fire alarm.
The family was unable to leave through the door and instead had to jump from their second-story window.
The apartment complex’s video surveillance showed a man at the victim’s front porch. Shortly after, a flame and a large explosion is seen.
Ashmore then fled the scene, according to The Lee County District Attorney’s Office.
The Lee County District Attorney’s Office also says the victim previously had an abusive relationship with Ashmore, who threatened to kill her on numerous occasions. Ashmore was under a court order to have no contact with the victim.
Samples of the burn debris collected by the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s office were chemically analyzed, later showing that Ashmore used gasoline as an accelerant for the flames.
Multiple families were displaced as a result of this apartment building fire.
This investigation was coordinated by Sgt. Brandon Hutto with the Opelika Police Department, along with other state agencies.