Two arrested for arson fire that killed Sylacauga native
by Bill Kimber
Dec 17, 2013 | 2216 views |  0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lt. Jeff Little of the Waycross, Ga., Fire Department was killed in the line of duty early Sunday. His funeral will be Friday in Sylacauga.
Lt. Jeff Little of the Waycross, Ga., Fire Department was killed in the line of duty early Sunday. His funeral will be Friday in Sylacauga.
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Police in Waycross, Ga., arrested two people in connection with the arson fire that killed Sylacauga native and former Childersburg fire captain Jeff Little.

Little was working as a lieutenant for the Waycross fire department when he died early Sunday from injuries suffered in a house fire that Georgia authorities deemed arson.

Waycross Police Chief Tony Tanner said Monday that Ronnie Joseph Cranford, 23, and Zachery Jacob Thompson, 17, both of Waycross, were arrested on charges of murder and arson, the Florida Times-Union reported. Waycross is about 75 miles northwest of Jacksonville, Fla.

Authorities had announced a $10,000 reward for information in the case. The two suspects were interviewed after a task force working the case developed information from a tip called in to the arson hot line at the state fire marshal’s office, Tanner told the Times-Union.

The task force was composed of investigators from the Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner’s office, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Waycross Police Department detectives and staff and the city fire marshal, Tanner said.

“We, like the entire community, were devastated by the senseless loss of Lt. Little and were hoping for a resolution in the case. The assistance given by the state fire marshal’s office and the ATF was invaluable,” Tanner said.

Tanner said the two were being held in the Ware County Jail, and it was unclear if they had attorneys late Monday.

Little, 50, had worked in Waycross for 12 years. He graduated from Sylacauga High School in 1981 and worked at the Childersburg Fire Department from April 1984 to August 2001.

Firefighters responded to the blaze on Isabella Street in Waycross shortly after midnight on Sunday. The house had been vacant for a number of years, and there were no utilities connected.

Little was injured after the blaze was extinguished and he was inside checking to extinguish hot spots. The ceiling collapsed and Little was trapped. He died at a nearby hospital.

Tuesday evening, the Childersburg City Council approved allowing members of the Childersburg Fire Department to use the department’s Engine 10 in Little’s funeral in Sylacauga on Friday. The truck will transport his body from the funeral home to the cemetery.

Childersburg Fire Chief Doug Blair said Sylacauga firefighters will help cover the Childersburg Fire Department while some of its firefighters attend the funeral.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.