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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2007
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Decatur building fires were arson: marshal

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com 340-2355

Two fires that damaged three buildings in a single city block last week both resulted from arson, Decatur's fire marshal said Tuesday.

Fire Marshal Darwin Clark said a suspicious fire June 6 that spread from a house in the 1200 block of Sixth Avenue Southeast to the house next door appeared intentionally set.

A fire early Saturday at 1202 Fifth Avenue S.E., behind the other burned houses, also appears to be arson, Clark said.

In Saturday's blaze, the house suffered heavy fire damage but the fire was limited to the south side of the building, Clark said.

Several witnesses to the blazes June 6 told authorities they saw a man with a yellow backpack in the vicinity within a few minutes of the fire being reported, but Clark said he knew of no witnesses to the second arson, discovered shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday.

Clark could not say whether the fires on Wednesday and Saturday were connected.

Clark asked anyone with information about either fire call 341-4862.

The first two burned houses were among four bought by John Cook, owner of Cook's Pest Control, and scheduled for demolition.

A day before the first fire broke out, Mark McCurry of Realty North announced the demolition plans and Cook's intentions to improve the property for a prospective client.

Clark said the rental property on Fifth Avenue also belongs to Cook.

"They were getting it prepared for some folks to move in," Clark said, "but they hadn't moved in at the time of the fire."

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