"It's been a rough spring," homeowner Jeff Koehler told The Brazil Times Thursday afternoon. "I'm a farmer, so first it was the rains and the crops. Now, as we begin to do the renovations to this house, the garage is burned down. It's really unfortunate."
Koehler said the building wasn't very valuable and was only being used for storage.
"I wasn't even sure what we were going to do with it," he said. "I feel that decision was mine to make, not whoever set it on fire."
Shortly after 12:30 a.m., Thursday, 911 dispatchers at the Clay County Justice Center were notified the small wood-frame building behind the house at 508 East South Street was on fire. A few minutes later, another caller reported it was fully engulfed in flames.
Members of the Center Point Volunteer Fire Department were able to contain the structure fire that was only a few feet away from the home.
Considered a complete loss, Center Point Fire Chief Aaron Morgan said two lawn mowers inside the building were also destroyed.
Because of a rash of suspicious fires in the Posey, Perry, Jackson and Sugar Ridge Townships within the past six months, and no electricity was hooked up in the building, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security Division of Fire and Building Safety was contacted to investigate.
Morgan said the fire marshal, who arrived early Thursday morning, declared the fire to be the sixth suspicious fire in the area within the past six months. Preliminary results determined an unidentified accelerant was used to set the fire sometime between 12-12:30 a.m.
"We need leads right now," Morgan said. "The other fires were in rural areas. This one was in the middle of Center Point. Apparently they're getting braver."
Morgan said his department is working with the Clay County Sheriff's Department, the fire marshal's office during the investigation.
"People need to report any type of suspicious activity they see at night, whether in the city or the country. Any kind of information is valuable. Usually people are at home and asleep when these fires are taking place, but if they should see something strange they need to report it," Morgan said. "It's the only way we're going to catch who's doing this."
To report information about this case, or any other, contact the Clay County Sheriff's Department at 812-446-2535, Fire Chief Aaron Morgan at 812-240-1021, or by using the Arson Reporting Hot Line at 1-800-382-4628.