“We got called by the Portsmouth Fire Department,” Shane Cartmill, public information officer for the State Fire Marshal’s Office said. “We assisted in a joint investigation with the Portsmouth Fire Department.”
Cartmill said the investigation resulted in the decision to rule the fire an arson.
“The investigators were able to eliminate all accidental causes, and they did find the evidence of a set fire,” Cartmill said. “We can’t comment on the specifics because it’s an ongoing investigation.”
Cartmill said there is a reason why the State Fire Marshal’s Office believes enlisting the public’s assistance will help solve the crime.
“We believe as with any set fire, someone will eventually talk about this fire and will say something about it,” Cartmill said. “And we hope that when that occurs that someone who knows something about the fire will come forward and talk to investigators.”
Cartmill said a reward is being offered in the investigation.
“The Blue Ribbon Arson Reward is given by the Ohio FAIR Plan,” Cartmill said. “It’s an arson reward up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification of the person or persons responsible.”
Cartmill said the reward plan has been successful when used in the past.
The Ohio FAIR Plan is supported by all insurance companies licensed to transact fire insurance business within the state. Each company shares in the losses of\ the plan in direct proportion to its premium volume of business in the state.
Cartmill said two occupants inside the home discovered the fire and were able to escape without injury. He said a smoke detector was present, but did not activate because it contained no batteries.
“We’re hoping someone will come forward if we get the message out,” Cartmill said. “We are looking for information and if the information is good, and we are able to identify who set the fire, there is a possibility for a reward.”
Anyone with information should call the Division of State Fire Marshal at (800) 589-2728 or the Portsmouth Fire Department at (740) 354-1200.
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101 Ext. 232.