July 24, 2014

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Wellington Fire Department seeks leads in July arson

HUNTINGTON TWP. — The Wellington Fire Department is reaching out through social media to find the arsonist responsible for a fire at a vacant house July 8 in Huntington Township.

The following was posted to Wellington Firefighter’s Association’s Facebook page Tuesday morning:

“On Sunday, July 8, at 11:14 a.m., an abandoned house at 25763 West Road, in Huntington Township was intentionally set on fire. This fire has been ruled an arson and investigators need your help.

“Anyone with information is asked to call the Wellington Fire District at (440) 647-2245 or contact Deputy Mickey Jackson at the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office at (440) 329-3801.

“If you are able to furnish information that leads to the identification of the person(s) responsible for this fire, there could be up to a $5,000 reward.”

Although the Facebook page is generally reserved for posts on upcoming fundraisers, Wellington Fire Chief Mike Wetherbee said he believed the page could help catch those responsible for the fire.

“Sometimes new leads can present themselves … you never know, we may get a phone call,” he said.

Wetherbee said the case was ruled arson after several witnesses came forward reporting that they had seen strangers by the home before it caught fire. He said the house was also unoccupied and did not have working electricity.

“We went to the fire, and things just didn’t add up,” he said.

The case was forwarded to the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office for investigation, but Wetherbee said no headway has been made so far. After more than four months, Wetherbee said he hopes new evidence comes to light.

Deputy Jackson was not able to be reached Tuesday, but Sgt. Don Barker at the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office said a report was made during the investigation. He did not know where the investigation stood.

According to the sheriff’s report on the fire, a man who drove by the scene told firefighters that he had seen a slim black male in his 20s, approximately 6 feet tall, standing in the driveway of the home before the fire. He said the man was “clean cut” and was wearing shorts.

Firefighters believe the fire started on the porch, according to the report.

Detectives were investigating three 911 calls that were made July 8, as well as a suspect who reportedly threatened a woman who had formerly occupied the home. No details were listed in the report on that investigation.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.