Man accused of trying to burn house with blow torch

Dec. 19, 2013 @ 05:09 PM

Late Tuesday night, James Mangum smelled smoke.
He went outside his home in the 11000 block of Wilkins Road in Bahama and, he told Durham County Sheriff’s deputies, discovered Connie Huff Blanchard, 65, trying to set his house ablaze with a blow torch.
“Mangum confronted Blanchard and the two fought over control of the blow torch,” said Deputy Paul Sherwin, public information officer. “Blanchard fled the area after the fight and Mangum remained at his residence to extinguish the fire.”
It’s not clear what motivated Blanchard to try to burn down Mangum’s house, but Sherwin indicated that the men knew each other before the incident.
“The men apparently have a history and it’s still being investigated,” Sherwin said. “This was not a random case of arson.”
Deputies later found Blanchard at his home on Bahama Road in Rougemont and allegedly he confessed to starting the fire. He sustained numerous injuries during the fight, including two black eyes and facial swelling. Emergency medical personnel evaluated his wounds at the scene and determined they were non-life threatening. Deputies then took Blanchard to the Durham County Jail on charges of first-degree arson and attempted first-degree murder. He was held under $1 million bond.

Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at