Jonesboro fire marshal needs help to solve two arson cases - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Jonesboro fire marshal needs help to solve two arson cases

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Hilltop Self-Storage, located on Old Greensboro Road Hilltop Self-Storage, located on Old Greensboro Road
Apartment building, located on E. Alpine Street Apartment building, located on E. Alpine Street

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The Jonesboro Fire Department needs the community's help to solve two cases of arson.

Investigators determined burglars likely set the fire on January 9 that destroyed an apartment building on East Alpine Street. There have been no arrests related to this fire, and now there is another incident of arson to investigate.

In addition to the arson at the apartment, Jonesboro Fire Marshal Jason Wills said someone started a fire on January 15 to cover up a separate break-in at a local storage unit. Firefighters have no suspects in this case either, but are possibly looking for someone that got injured after causing a gun safe to explode.

This latest arson happened at Hilltop Self-Storage located on Old Greensboro Road in Jonesboro. A fire was set inside one of the storage units where the owners kept all their video surveillance equipment.

"[The owners] were utilizing a gun safe to keep the video equipment safe," Wills explained. "Someone had forced entry into that unit, and we believe they poured gasoline in the safe. Either the electrical components sparked the ignition, or [the suspects] ignited it with something."

Wills said he believes the fire was an attempt to cover up a burglary and destroy surveillance equipment that might have captured suspects breaking into other storage units.

"The safe had holes in the back of it to allow for ventilation of the electrical equipment inside it," Wills said. "Based on the evidence that we were able to collect at the scene, we feel that gasoline was poured into the safe. The vapors being concentrated in a contained vessel – once they ignited either by the electrical components or by ignition from the person responsible – caused an explosion and a catastrophic failure to the safe."

The explosion inside the gun safe was powerful enough to blast off the door and hurl it into the other wall.

"The door was blown off; the safe was distorted," Wills said. "We did not find any evidence where the person used a trailer, which means they may have trailed gasoline or something and ignited that from a remote location, so we feel that there's a potential that they were in close proximity to the safe when it exploded."

Wills and other investigators have now contacted local hospitals to see if any patients have come in recently complaining of hearing loss or other burns and injuries, and so far that has produced no leads.

"We're hoping for any help from the public," he said. "If anybody has any information on either of the fires, that would be great."

Anyone with information about who committed these crimes should contact the Jonesboro Fire Marshal's  office at 870-932-2428, or they can call Jonesboro CrimeStoppers at 870-935-STOP.

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