LUMBERTON — A Lumberton councilman’s towing company is operating at half-speed after fire destroyed one of its trucks on Saturday.
Councilman John “Big Wayne” Robinson, who operates Big Wayne’s Towing and represents Precinct 2 on the City Council, suspects the fire was set intentionally. The Lumberton Police Department is investigating it as suspicious.
The tow truck that was destroyed was one of two that serves the business.
Robinson said he was on vacation in Florida when he awoke Saturday morning to 10 missed calls from Lumberton City Manager Wayne Horne and Police Chief Mike McNeill.
“I’m thinking something drastic happened in the city of Lumberton, like a murder,” Robinson said. “I took a deep breath and called Chief McNeill.”
The front seat and front end of the truck were burned, destroying a vehicle Robinson valued at $50,000. Additionally, about $3,000 in damage was done to two vehicles parked next to it that partially melted from the heat. The fire was reported at about 1:45 a.m. Saturday and occurred near Robinson’s home, but did not damage the house. The Lumberton Fire Department responded, saving the nearby vehicles from additional damage.
“It affects my business 100 percent,” Robinson said. ” … Other than being a city councilman, that’s how I feed my family and pay my bills.”
Robinson said he believes the truck was set on fire by another towing company after a dispute in which he tried to help a resident recover a vehicle the company had towed from his property about two weeks before the fire. The keys were in the truck, he said, so the perpetrator could have stolen it.
“I feel that I was a victim because I chose to stand up for the people,” he said.
Robinson declined to name the towing company and The Robesonian has elected not to publish details that may identify it.
Anyone with information about the fire can call Detective Charles Keenum at the Lumberton Police Department at 910-671-3845.