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One injured in weekend fire

BY Brian Powers - bpowers@chronicle-tribune.com

An intentionally set fire Saturday evening destroyed a home in Maplewood Village. 

Marion Fire Department crews responded to the fire at 1515 S. Miller St., Lot 88, at about 5:45 p.m. MFD Investigator Brandon Eckstein said the home was a total loss after crews battled the blaze for well-over two hours.

Eckstein said the fire was set intentionally by a 13-year-old male residing in the home. Saturday’s blaze was allegedly the third fire-related incident the boy has had in less than a year, according to Eckstein, with each incident more severe than the last. He said the fire was started in a bedroom closet.

Eckstein said the boy will not face charges due to the juvenile having a diagnosis of autism. Eckstein said the boy will need to undergo mental health treatment rather than face possible jail time. 

“The child was released to his guardian on the condition he undergoes professional mental health care,” Eckstein said.

The juvenile’s father was awakened by the smell of smoke and proceeded to try and extinguish the fire. Eckstein said the man was transported to Marion General Hospital for first degree burns to his left forearm and symptoms of smoke inhalation. He was released after treatment. Eckstein reported no other injuries to the other two adults or the juvenile in the incident.

Eckstein said the residence had smoke detectors installed, but they were not functional. He took the opportunity to remind citizens to check their smoke detector batteries or contact MFD for free smoke detectors.

Gene McNutt, property manager of Maplewood Village, had nothing but positive comments about the actions of the mobile home community and its residents after the fire.

“Ninety percent or more of our residents came together to help donate items for this family,” McNutt said. “I am just so proud of all of my residents coming together the way they did.”

Maplewood Village owners and managers came through for the family as well by offering them a vacant mobile home to stay in the same evening. The family will be able to purchase the home at a significantly reduced price.

“She will purchase the 2001 mobile home on a monthly payment and they will own it in one year,” McNutt said. “She’s been a resident here for seven years, and we always try to take care of our residents.”