Man arrested in downtown Harrisburg fire

HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) – 28-year-old Joseph Harper is in jail in connection with Harrisburg's Wednesday morning downtown fire.

The fire destroyed the building where American Legion Post Number 14 and the Jennings Collier Law Firm were located.

Harrisburg Police Chief Gary Hefner tells Region 8 news Harper confessed to starting the fire. He also said he confessed to stealing several items which include four rifles, a flat screen television and beer. Hefner said Harper confessed to being on the prescription drug Xanax at the time of the alleged actions.

"He does have an extensive criminal background," said Chief Hefner.

He also said he is proud of the fact they arrested the suspect in less than 24-hours.

Hefner said despite Harper's actions he comes from a solid family.

"They are a real fine family just another family that has been struck by the drugs," said Hefner.

Despite this arrest and confession the lengthy investigation continued into Thursday by the Arkansas State Fire Marshall investigators, the Arkansas State Police investigators and their dog.

Hefner said justice is being served for this tight knit community.

As for the American Legion Members they said they are grateful for the arrest and the recovery of their items. However, many of them tell KAIT they can't shake the sadness knowing the most important items are now lost in these ashes.

Members said they have applied for a $5,000 grant to rebuild the Legion building.

As for Harper Hefner says he is being charged with community burglary, arson and property theft.

Hefner said they did have take another person of interest into custody, but said they have since been cleared and released them.

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