Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Arson likely in four fires

All began within hour: House destroyed

By Ari Bloomekatz
Enquirer staff writer

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS - Cincinnati Fire Department officials suspect arson in a series of early morning fires Monday in the Corryville and Camp Washington neighborhoods.

Cincinnati firefighters had difficulty controlling this fire on Martin Luther King Dr. Monday.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
A house on Martin Luther King Drive, a trash can at McMicken Avenue and King, a mattress at Henshaw and Hopple streets, and a Dumpster on Riddle Road were ignited between 2:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. Authorities said the fires may be linked.

No one was hurt in any of the incidents. No one had been arrested Monday.

The most serious fire was set at a home in the 700 block of King Drive at about 3 a.m. Authorities closed streets in the area to fight the fire and traffic backed up for much of Monday morning.

Steve Kluesener, District 3 fire chief, said it took about two hours for firefighters to get the blaze under control because of the large number of items in the house.

"Every room was stacked with storage up to the ceiling," Kluesener said. He added the only way to extinguish the fire was to raze the building with a bulldozer.

Arson is suspected because no one was in the house at the time, the gas and electric utilities had been shut off and there were no other obvious signs of an accidental fire, Kluesener said.

Neighbors said the 65-year-old owner of the house collected other people's garbage and stored it inside his home.

"When people would set out their trash, he would go and collect it," said neighborhood resident Tom Willis. "The extent of it is what's strange."


E-mail abloomekatz@enquirer.com

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