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Investigator wants probe of Beverly fire

HATTIESBURG — Hattiesburg fire investigator Scott McRaney says he’s asked state and federal investigators to look into the blaze that destroyed the historic Beverly Drive-In on Oct. 30.

He said he called the state fire marshal and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives because of its value in money and history.

The 62-year-old theater — the second drive-in to open in Mississippi — was on the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s 2008 list of 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi.

It was for sale before the fire, with a $1 million price tag.

Electricity, gas and lightning all have been ruled out — the site had neither power nor natural gas, McRaney said.

Someone had to have started the fire, either accidentally or on purpose, co-owner Suzette Hargroder said.

She said vagrants and other trespassers were a constant at the property, which included a three-bedroom house below the screen.

“There was never a time I went by there when someone had not been in the house,” she said.

Hargroder also said she filed a police report after finding matches and cigarette butts in the house after the theater closed in 2005 because of damage from Hurricane Katrina.

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