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Arson suspected in two Marion fires

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com

Two structure fires on Tuesday were ruled intentional by Marion Fire Department.

At 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, a home at 34th and Nebraska streets caught fire and quickly got out of control, according to Marion Fire Department officials.

Marion Fire Chief Geoff Williams said the flames stretched across the front of the house. A picture posted to social media of the home shows the front of the house completely engulfed in flames.

Fire Investigator Brandon Eckstein said the fire was particularly difficult to get under control due to a lack of access to the second floor. He said the flames spread to the second story of the home and engulfed the stairs, making it inaccessible from the inside. Firefighters used a ladder truck to climb in through the second window, according to Williams.

The fire department got the fire under control around 2:50 a.m. Firefighters were on scene for more than an hour fighting the blaze. Eckstein said the home was a total loss, and was unoccupied at the time of the fire but is owned.

Fire Investigating Canine Jersey, who has been trained to detect accelerants used in suspected arsons, was brought on scene and indicated that accelerants had been used and the fire was intentional.

Eckstein said they are working toward bringing a suspect into custody.

A homeowner’s garage on West Ninth Street burned Tuesday morning just before 9 a.m. Marion Fire Department offered mutual aid to Pleasant Township Volunteer Fire Department to extinguish the flames. Eckstein said it appeared homeless people had taken up residence in the garage, burning materials inside for warmth and lost control of the fire.

He said that while the fire may have been accidental, because the individuals were not welcome on the property the fire is ruled as intentional.

Eckstein said authorities are searching for three suspects in relation to the garage fire.