Hope, AR – The William J. Clinton Birthplace, where former President Bill Clinton spent the first four years of his life, was set ablaze this Christmas morning.
At 3:17 am CT, a motorist passing by noticed smoke pouring out of the home and immediately called 9-1-1. When police and fire crews arrived, the flames on the back wall of the home reached eight feet high, and impacted the second story of the home. While there does not appear to be extensive fire damage to the home, there is significant smoke and water damage.
The house, which gained notoriety during Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, was owned by Clinton’s grandparents. Designated a National Historic Site, it is currently operated and maintained by the National Parks Service.
Evidence found at the scene points to arson as the cause of the fire. Hope police chief, J.R. Wilson, stated there was a very strong indication that accelerants were utilized and there was a heavy odor of gasoline at the base of the fire.
Police also found graffiti on the property, including the number “55” spray painted in black on the sidewalk leading up to the home. The number 55 is a well-known text abbreviation for “haha”. On the north door of the home, they found “XX” spray painted, and below it, a big frown with a long protruding tongue sticking out.
At this time, police believe this to be an act of malicious juvenile vandalism. Investigators are collecting surveillance videos from the area in hopes to find additional evidence. The National Park Service is investigating the case and the FBI has also offered their assistance. An investigator from the New Orleans office of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), will arrive on scene Saturday to assist in the investigation as well.