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Officials investigating sixth 'suspicious' fire in county

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Center Point resident Jeff Koehler's garage behind a residence he was renovating at 508 E. South St., Center Point, was destroyed by fire Thursday morning.
CENTER POINT -- Whoever set the fire at an out building in Center Point didn't cause much financial destruction.

"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.

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I do not understand why this is not a big deal? Someone is out there setting fires!

-- Posted by sassypants on Fri, Jul 18, 2008, at 9:35 AM

If anyone has the slightest idea of who might be setting these fires they need to contact the authorities so this person can be stopped before he/she seriously injures or even kills someone. This is not someone who gets a thrill by setting these fires, this is someone who needs some serious help.

-- Posted by Firedad on Fri, Jul 18, 2008, at 11:39 AM

People know who set this fire and maybe others. Why don't they step up and report them. Maybe Centerpointers need to look in their own front yards.

-- Posted by cyclerider on Fri, Jul 18, 2008, at 4:54 PM

Cyclerider, what do you expect people to sit out on their front porch day and night.

-- Posted by NorthviewGirl on Sat, Jul 19, 2008, at 2:50 AM

I live in centerpoint. The same day of the fire we were robbed. We lost some tools, battery charger and 2 large gas cans. Police got both men involved. We are 2 house away from the garage. Accross the road a neighbor reported 2 of his gas cans disappeared. Also the fence store accrossed from them a week or so before had gas cans stole. Kind of makes you think the guys that robbed us, were the ones that set the fires.

PS they walked from their apartment to our house. We actually caught them so they hid our belongings in the ditch beside our house.Then ran back to the apartment. They walked right by the garage 2-3 times. Suspicious Dont you think. Then came back later and retrieved the items.

-- Posted by brmmdm01 on Sat, Jul 19, 2008, at 11:12 PM

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