Leader Blues

Monday, August 07, 2006

TOP STORY >> Boy, 11, charged in fire at complex

IN SHORT: Blaze causes $400,000 in damage to a Jacksonville apartment building.

Leader staff writer

An 11-year-old-boy faces one felony count of arson following a fire, which resulted in about $400,000 in damages at an apartment complex building off Poplar Street in Jack-sonville Wednesday afternoon.

No one was injured in the apartment building, but the fire left people in the 10 occupied units of the B building at the William Manor Apartments without a place to call home.

“They had to shut down the whole building,” said Capt. Charlie Pope, fire marshal for the Jack-sonville Fire Department.
Jacksonville police officers helped residents evacuate the building.

On Thursday morning, as detectives sifted through charred rubble for possible clues as well as taking snapshots, a woman told The Leader that the fire was definitely not an accident.

According to witnesses, some juveniles with charcoal lighter fluid, a balloons and an unidentified type of fireworks were seen in the Poplar Street area, leading local law-en-forcement officials to suspect arson.

Despite the boy being arrested for arson, Pope was reluctant to call the fire arson since that implies the fire was intentionally set.

“It is believed the fire started because of juvenile fire play,” Pope told The Leader.

Pope said the fire began outside the structure where two stairwells met at ground level. Arson is usually suspected when there is no heat source near where a fire starts.

After the evacuation, firefighters battled the fire for about an hour before getting it under controlled.

Temperatures on Wednesday afternoon were well into the high 90s as they extinguished the fire and later searched out hotspots so the fire could have no chance of rekindling.

“There were some hot and tired firefighters, but no one had heat exhaustion,” Pope said.

Being notified of the fire at 5:04 p.m. Wednesday, firefighters arrived at the apartment building within three minutes.
The last firefighters mopping up after the fire left at about 8:30 p.m.

When asked if there would be other arrests, Lt. Martin Cass, an assistant public information officer for the Jacksonville Police Department, replied, “None that I’m aware of.”

According to a police report, Mike Corker of Sherwood is the property owner.