Fort Bend Co. probationer accused of torching probation office

A Fort Bend County man who was on probation is now facing arson charges stemming from a fire at a satellite probation office.

Court records read the Fort Bend County probation office off Beechnut was heavily damaged by a fire in April. No one was hurt since the fire started after the office had closed for the day.

A search warrant shows the building’s internet connection was damaged during the fire to the point investigators couldn’t retrieve surveillance video from the cameras at that location. However, surveillance video was captured by the county’s road and bridge building, which is across the parking lot from the probation office.

Video from that building shows a shadowy figure running along a fence line behind the building shortly before the fire started. There is a small strip of land between the county’s property and a neighboring community. Court documents read investigators found a blue balloon, a patch of dead grass and detected the smell of gasoline in this area.

“There was high heat within the building from the items that were in there between office chairs and paper products and stuff like that,” said Fort Bend County Fire Marshal, Justin Jurek.

Jurek said lab tests determined gas was used to start the fire. He said his investigators then got a list of probationers who visited this office and began working to find those with physical characteristics matching the figure seen on video.

“There was a long list of people. The staff was incredible with the work that they did, they worked long hours and days and nights,” said Jurek.

Jurek said investigators began focusing on Andrew Huwar, 29, roughly 10 days after the fire. Court records show Huwar was on probation for stalking his ex-girlfriend.

Officials with the District Attorney’s Office said Huwar was originally given three years probation but had two years added after he violated a protective order.

Court records read he visited the probation office the day of the fire and had recently tested positive for cocaine. The warrant reads, on the day of the fire, his probation officer “informed Huwar of Huwar’s positive drug test and informed Huwar that Huwar’s probation would likely be revoked.”

A search warrant filed in the case shows a car similar to Huwar’s was seen near the office around the time the fire started, and his cell phone was located in the area. Investigators later learned Huwar was arrested following a minor fender-bender two days after the fire.

Court records read he was charged with driving with an invalid license and no insurance. He was also charged with interfering with the duties of a public servant after police said he refused to hand over the keys to his car.

Court documents show when his car was inventoried, blue balloons, similar to what was found near the probation office, were found by officers, along with a lighter.

Huwar was then charged with arson, which is a 2nd-degree felony. Officials with the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office said they are filing a motion to revoke his probation in the stalking case.

Jurek said the probation building is a total loss.

County records show the facility was built for $132,000 in 2008. Jurek said there is also the additional burden of having the building out of commission.

“We’ve had to move staff to other areas and the clients that would go to that location will have to travel and take extended time from their jobs,” said Jurek.

About the Author:

Award winning investigative journalist who joined KPRC 2 in July 2000. Husband and father of the Master of Disaster and Chaos Gremlin. “I don’t drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.”