On March 28, 2022, the Dothan Fire Department and Police Department responded to an active structure fire in the 100 block of South Oates Street. Due to the confined streets of the downtown area and the equipment used to battle the blaze, a small portion of South Oates Street had to be shut down.
Within minutes of this fire, a second active structure fire was discovered in the 200 block of North Oates Street, which was a two-story motel. This too led to the street being shut down, which then caused a large portion of North and South Oates Street to be blocked off. Because the two active fires were within minutes, and within blocks of each other, suspicion was quickly raised. A criminal arson investigator from the Police Department began working alongside the Dothan Fire Marshall and they were able to determine both fires were a result of arson.
Both structures received extensive damage from the fires, however, no one was injured in either fire. Upon officers’ arrival at the second fire, they observed a person of interest coming from the area of the fire. That individual was detained as part of the active investigation. Subsequently, the investigations led to the arrest of 38 year-old Jeffrey Watford, of Dothan, who was charged with two counts of arson second-degree. His bond has been set at $60,000.00. A motive in these cases has not been determined at this time.