WILLIAMSON, WV (WOWK) – The day after a fire ripped through multiple homes in Mingo County, it was still smoldering, and the man accused of starting it all said it was an “accident.”

According to court records, Eugene Kitchen, 54, of Williamson, is facing three counts of arson, one count of trespassing and one count of obstruction of an officer.

“I heard the fire trucks, but I didn’t come out. Then my husband got home, and he said it’s burning down the street,” said Gay Dotson, Williamson resident. “I came out and there was this giant blaze. I couldn’t believe it; there was fire everywhere.” 

Crews said five structures caught fire; three of which are total losses. They also said none of them were occupied at the time, and there were no injuries reported. 

“As a resident, I just want it to be better,” said Jerry Hurley. “This could have had loss of life yesterday very easily and it could’ve gotten out of hand real quick.”

Court records state that Kitchen is accused of going into a home on Mulberry Street without the owner’s permission because he was “looking for a place to rent.”

Witnesses near the scene told authorities the fire broke out within minutes of Kitchen leaving the area, and it spread to two nearby homes and the brush behind them.

“Yesterday evening it was dark when I got home and I saw the brush fire had began to turn around,” Hurley said. “Luckily, we did have some rain last night that I think helped to extinguish that.”

Kitchen is being held at the Southwestern Regional Jail on a $100,000 bond.