According to a press release issued by the Clay County Sheriff's Department, Daniel T. Kopacz, 27, Terre Haute, has been preliminarily charged with a class B felony arson, class B felony burglary of a residence and one count of resisting law enforcement after admitting to authorities his involvement in a residential fire in Clay City.
Officials told The Brazil Times 911 dispatchers were notified Wednesday that flames and smoke were shooting through the roof of a residence located at 710 Nye St., Clay City.
Clay City Assistant Police Chief Mick Neiswinger was one of the first officials to respond to the scene. Because it was initially unclear if anyone was inside the home, Neiswinger attempted to enter the home, but stopped when informed the resident was away.
Firefighters from Clay City, Center Point, Cory and Lewis Township Volunteer Fire Departments were dispatched to the scene of the fire. Within minutes, they were able to determine the fire was suspicious in nature and requested a fire marshal be contacted to investigate.
Firefighters remained on the scene for two hours to ensure the fire was out.
Meanwhile, Sgt./K-9 Handler Josh Clarke and Sheriff Mike Heaton were also on the scene investigating peculiar events surrounding the fire.
According to officials and the press release, it was confirmed that Kopacz, 27, lived at the residence up to two weeks prior to the fire. Also, on Monday, Oct. 20, Heaton responded to an undisclosed domestic issue between Kopacz and the homeowner.
Kopacz was at the fire scene, however, when Heaton approached him for questioning, he ran away. Clarke's partner, K-9 Officer Forrest, was released and detained Kopacz after a short chase.
Because Forrest uses a clamp and hold maneuver to subdue a suspect, a medical unit was called to the scene to check the suspect for injuries. Officials confirm that Kopacz sustained no injuries during the incident.
Kopacz was taken into custody and transported to the Clay County Justice Center and initially charged with the preliminary charge of resisting arrest.
Chief Deputy Rob Gambill questioned Kopacz about the fire. Kopacz admitted he set the fire, which caused extensive damage to the residence and the property outside.
Chief of Investigations for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security Division of Fire and Building Safety Fred Daffer investigated the fire scene Thursday. He determined the fire was not caused by any weather-related event or accidental cause from within the home.
However, Daffer discovered chemicals that could have been used as accelerants in areas of the home where the homeowner would not typically keep them.
A preliminary case report has been sent to the Clay County Prosecutor's Officer for review and further potential charges to be accessed.
According to jail officials, Kopacz is currently incarcerated on a $25,000 cash bond with no 10 percent allowed (in accordance with the Clay County bond schedule) while awaiting formal arraignment per the court calendar.