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19 Year Old Charged in Williams Street Fire

By Ellis Codjoe, March 15, 2017

Officials have made an arrest into an Arson investigation that began more than a week ago. Ottumwa Fire Chief Tony Miller says that the investigation into a fire at 601 E Williams Street is quickly coming to a close.

“The investigation on Williams is starting to wrap up. We made an arrest on that last week. He’s been charged with Arson,” Miller told Ottumwa Radio News.

Deputy Fire Chief Cory Benge investigated the incident and filed charges against 19 year old Alexander Wynn of Ottumwa. He has been charged with first degree arson, a class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

“This was a young man who lived in that house,” Miller said. “He set the house on fire. We’ll get this young man some help so that a small problem doesn’t become a big problem later on.

Benge also arrested a student at Evans Middle School early Wednesday morning, charging him in connection with an unrelated fire on Court Street.

Miller says that so far they have been unable to link a recent string of arson related car fires to the two, saying that the investigation is ongoing. “State Fire Marshall office is in Ottumwa today looking into that,” Miller said. “We need to get that put away because we’ve had a lot of them.”

He says residents, especially those living on the south side of Ottumwa, need to stay vigilant.

“The public needs to be aware of what is going on,” he said. “Lock your cars up. We’re finding out that a lot of these fires they didn’t even have to break in because the car was unlocked. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, call the police and fire departments.

The Ottumwa Fire Department says that parents need to watch out for warning signs in youth. Young Fire starters can attend a program through the fire department to help deter fire setting. Master Firefighter Ron Klein helps run the program and says in younger children, curiosity can often lead to fire setting.

“On the little guys, they’re mainly curious,” Klein said. “They’re curious what the matches do, what the lighters do. They might start out thinking the small fire is pretty cool but they don’t have it in their heads yet what can happen.”

Klein says that in older children and teenagers the problem can often stem from abuse or other negative home situations.

He says the youth fire setter prevention program will evaluate and screen each child and family to determine the best course of action. “Depending on the score it might be that the child just needs further fire safety education. We can provide that. The child might need counseling through a professional as well.”

Parents are encouraged to contact the fire department at 641-683-0667 if they want to enroll their child in the young fire starters prevention program.

“If you have any questions, just give us a call,” Klein said. “The ultimate goal is to help the kids and keep the kids safe as well as their families.”

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