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Texas State Fire Marshal's Office joins investigation into fire that destroyed the home of Earl Thomas

The Orange County Sheriff's Department says it was necessary to get a warrant to gain access to the property since they've not had contact with Thomas yet.

ORANGE, Texas — Officials are investigating the cause of the fire that engulfed the home of former National Football League player, Southeast Texas native Earl Thomas in flames. 

The Orange County Sherriff's Office is the lead investigating party, but they're being assisted by the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office and the Orange Fire Department. 

The home located at FM 1130 and Bear Path Drive in Orange went ablaze Thursday evening, leaving the property completely destroyed. 

Investigators had to sign a warrant to gain access to the property to do an official investigation alongside the fire marshals. 

The Orange County Sheriffs Department says it was necessary to get a warrant since they have not had contact with Thomas yet. 

Detective Colton Havard says in house fire investigations, it's always good to get a second department involved.

"That's their specialized field, you know we like to call them in and get a second set of eyes on it. Especially when it's someone's livelihood and their house you know," he said. 

Investigators say investigations of this magnitude could take anywhere from days to months to complete.

"Sometimes it may take as little as three months and others 6 or 8 months. So it all depends every case is a little different," Havard said. 

Chief Matt Manshack with Little Cypress Fire and Orange County ESD 3 says they got the call around 5:15 p.m. Thursday.

First crews on scene noticed heavy smoke and flames at the Southeast corner of Thomas' house. 

When they tried to get in, the smoke was too thick so they had to pull back and go into what he called "defensive mode."

The cause of the fire is not confirmed, but officials are not ruling out lightning as a possible cause.

The 12News StormTrackers reviewed radar data and found a lot of lighting with the storms that moved through Orange Thursday afternoon. 

Chief Manshack says they're investigating to see whether lighting could be to blame, but he confirms to 12News that no one was hurt in the blaze.

Credit: 12NewsNow

He also says, Thomas' home is at a total loss.

"When we arrived on scene the guys, the firefighter crew went in found heavy fire conditions in that corner. We're unable to get it under control quickly. With the size of the structure the choice was made by them to go ahead and pull out and just go defensive with it," he said. 

Orange Fire Department Fire Marshal Randy Ener says firefighters that were first on scene spoke briefly to Thomas. Thomas then got into a car with who officials believe was his mother and drove off.

Ener says he heard Thomas' mother frequently came to the home to look after Thomas' kids.

One official told 12News he doesn't have any reason to believe the fire was set on purpose. 

Credit: E.J. Williams

On May 14 2022, Thomas was arrested at Spanky’s Bar and Grill in Orange on a warrant out of Austin for a violation of a court protective order, stemming from him allegedly sending threatening messages to his wife about her and their children.

Thomas was booked into the Orange County Jail and soon bonded out. His bond was set at $15,000.

The Austin American-Statesman reports Thomas owns a home in West Austin with his estranged wife and also spends time in Orange, where he grew up.

A warrant on April 27 accused Thomas of violating the protective order two or more times within 12 months, which a third-degree felony.

Thomas’ May 2021 protective order requires him to communicate with the woman only through a co-parenting phone application. The woman told police Thomas refuses to download the application and shows up unannounced to places she visits, according to the police affidavit.

She said Thomas recently began sending threatening text messages.

Thomas allegedly sent a text on April 18 claiming he had two handguns, saying, “Waiting on hand in foot is why I’ll kick ur ass.”

He also allegedly threatened to poison the children. Police say he later texted, “I hope u in the car with him and the kids and yall drive off the road.”

In May 2020, police arrested Thomas’ wife after she was accused of pointing a loaded pistol at his head after breaking into a vacation home and finding him with another woman. She filed for divorce that November.

The seven-time Pro Bowl safety has not played since 2020 when the Baltimore Ravens released him after he punched a teammate during a preseason practice. He played for West Orange-Stark High School and graduated in 2007. He also played for the University of Texas from 2008 to 2010. On April 22, 2022 he told an ESPN reporter he hopes to return to the NFL.

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