August 22, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
74°F
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Fire at Wilkes Villa

Man douses self with lighter fluid, sets blaze as cops stand outside

ELYRIA — A 24-year-old man doused himself with charcoal lighter fluid and set fire to an apartment in the Wilkes Villa housing projects after police officers were called by a woman seeking help to get her ex-boyfriend to leave.

LifeCare paramedics and police load Kenneth Kimbrough into an ambulance. 

Officers rushed to the Bohannon Court apartment about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday after a 31-year-old woman called to say her ex-boyfriend, Kenneth Kimbrough of Lorain, was inside her apartment threatening to hurt her if she came inside.

When officers arrived, they learned Kimbrough had locked all the doors and barricaded himself inside.

Police say he stood in front of a second-story window, screaming threats at officers that he would set fire to the place if they came inside. 

Kimbrough began dousing himself in lighter fluid as officers and other residents watched from the courtyard, police said.

The Elyria Fire Department was called when those outside saw smoke and flames inside the apartment. Maintenance workers for the complex used master keys to unlock the doors as the flames began to spread.

Officers and the maintenance workers rushed inside and found Kimbrough unconscious on the staircase.

Assistant Fire Chief Ron Brlas said that by the time firefighters got on the scene everyone including Kimbrough was out of the apartment, so firefighters quickly began fighting the fire. It was put out within minutes, Brlas said.

Kimbrough was taken to EMH Regional Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation. Upon his release a short time later, he was charged with aggravated arson and inducing panic and menacing, and taken the Elyria City Jail.

The damage to the apartment and personal contents is estimated at about $12,000. The next-door apartment also sustained heat and smoke damage.

Brlas said the Red Cross is providing temporary housing for the residents of both apartments; Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority will be providing a new apartment to the woman and children who lived in the burned apartment.

The woman told police Kimbrough likely used a key to get inside as he previously had lived with her. Just recently, she had his name removed from the lease, a police report said.

But police say Kimbrough has repeatedly visited the apartment and called the woman in recent weeks, police said.

The woman told police she left the apartment n Tuesday night, to stay the night in Cleveland with her children after a fight with Kimbrough.

But the argument started up again Wednesday, with Kimbrough calling her several times and leaving derogatory and threatening messages on her cell phone’s voicemail, police said.

The woman — fearing that Kimbrough was back at her apartment — called police for help.

The fire almost certainly was set deliberately, Brlas said, as flammable liquids and combustibles were found in the apartment. Still, the cause will be investigated, he said.

Kimbrough is the brother of Kevin Kimbrough, the 24-year-old Lorain man who could face the death penalty after being charged with murder in the death of an 8-month-old boy whom he was baby-sitting.

Contact Shawn Foucher at 653-6255 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com. Contact Lisa Roberson at 653-6268 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.