U.S. News

Former Texas home of Bushes burned by arsonist

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A home where President George W. Bush lived as a young boy with his parents in Odessa, Texas, and that is now part of a presidential museum there was damaged on Thursday by a fire that investigators blamed on arson.

President George W. Bush signs into law H.R. 2764 during a flight aboard Air Force One on December 26, 2007. REUTERS/Chris Greenberg/Handout

“I can tell you it has been determined that it was intentionally set, but I cannot discuss anything about evidence or possible suspects because this is an ongoing criminal investigation,” said city of Odessa spokeswoman Andrea Goodson.

Museum administrator Lettie England said no motive for the blaze had been determined and there was no reason at this point to believe it was a political act. She said there were no notes or messages left at the scene.

England said in a telephone interview from the west Texas city that the arsonist spread some kind of flammable liquid on the door and front windows and set the fire.

The then 2-year-old Bush lived in the two-bedroom home from September 1948 to April 1949 with his father, former President George Bush, then a trainee for an oil company, and his mother, Barbara Bush.

The Bushes had come to Texas from the Northeastern United States after World War Two to get into the oil business.

The 800-square-foot (74-square-metre) wooden house was restored in 2004 and moved near the Presidential Museum and Leadership Library on the University of Texas of the Permian Basin campus.

Goodson said the front door and windows and the attic were badly damaged.

England vowed to restore the house again because of its historical significance.

“When you realize that two presidents and a first lady who is also the mother of a president and two governors all lived in this house at one time, it’s important,” she said.

Reporting by Jeff Franks; Editing by Peter Cooney