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WATCH/DEVELOPING: Teenager Doused in Gasoline, Alleged Arsonist Taken to ORHC

By Ellis Codjoe, June 16, 2017

Update: Ottumwa Fire Chief Tony Miller now says that because of the complex nature of the investigation, additional information is unlikely to be released today.

Investigators remain on scene and have called in additional resources from the Cedar Rapids Fire Department to assist in the ongoing investigation. The Wapello County Attorney’s Office has also joined in the investigation. No further information is available on the suspect or the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Wapello County Attorney Gary Oldenburger says “It’s an understatement to say [the two residents] were lucky here.”

While not commenting on what charges may be filed, Oldenberger says the crime could qualify as first degree arson because people were inside the home when the fire was set. First Degree Arson is a Class B Felony punishable by up to 50 years in prison.

Original: Police, Firefighters and Paramedics responded to a heart stopping situation early Friday morning on the south side of Ottumwa.

Firefighters were notified of a house fire in the 700 block of Wabash Street at around 5:15 A.M. They were initially told that one person was on the roof of the burning home and that a teenager had been doused in gasoline.

Ottumwa Fire Chief Tony Miller quickly confirmed that the fire was intentionally set. Police Lieutenant Chad Farrington tells Ottumwa Radio News that police believe the man found on the roof of the home set the fire.

The alleged arsonist received unknown injuries during the incident and was transported to the Ottumwa Regional Health Center. Farrington says the man did not live in the home with the victims.

Two people, an adult female and female teenager were inside the home when the fire started. Both escaped without serious injury.

Ottumwa Assistant Fire Chief Mike Craff says it’s moments like this where the Firefighter’s rigorous training pays off.

“These guys did a good job. As their Assistant Chief I’m really proud of them,” Craff told Ottumwa Radio News. “They made one heck of a stop [on the fire]. We had one injury and he was taken to the hospital. For these guys to be treating an injury and fighting a fire at the same time, like I said, I can’t be more proud of them.”

A cat was killed in the blaze.

Firefighters had the fire knocked down within minutes of arriving on scene, all while treating the injured suspect and looking after the two residents as well.

Ottumwa Police Officers and Ottumwa Fire Investigator and Deputy Fire Chief Cory Benge are actively investigating the incident.

Police and firefighters say additional information will be released later today after investigators have had a chance to examine the scene and talk to witnesses. (See update above)

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