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Arson is suspected in Jamestown fire

JAMESTOWN -- Arson is suspected in an apartment fire Thursday morning in Jamestown, according to Detective Scott Edinger of the Jamestown Police Department, because investigators have found no known source for the fire.

Capt. Jim Reuther of the Jamestown Fire Department, lead investigator, said several residents of the 12-plex at 411 15th Ave. N.E. called in the fire at 5:22 a.m. when fire alarms sounded. The fire was located inside the east entrance of the building, which was not equipped with secure entrances.

Firefighters were on the scene in less than 10 minutes time and had the fire under control by 5:46 a.m.

Reuther said people were trapped on the second and third floors and had to be evacuated with ladders because the hallways and stairwells were too hot to traverse.

Three people were transported to Jamestown Hospital, their condition unknown.

Reuther said 19 people were living in the apartment building, and the fire department made two sweeps of the building to make sure everyone was evacuated.

Reuther said all three hallways in the building and the stairwells were heavily damaged by smoke. Some apartments on the east side were damaged by fire.

Thursday's was the second suspicious apartment fire in a four-week period in Jamestown, but investigators are not ready to say the fires were connected.

"There are some similarities between the two fires, but to say they are related would be premature," Edinger said.

Fire Chief Bert Gray, who is retiring on June 30 and turning the reins over to Reuther, said this apartment and the apartment damaged by fire on May 29 at 1327 10th St. S.E. were both owned by the same people, who live out of town. Better Homes Property Management LLC, which manages both buildings, corroborated that information but would not release the names of the owners.

The fire is being investigated by the police, fire department and the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

"We do have evidence that's going to be sampled that was collected today," Reuther said, and, "We have to follow up on a lot of leads."

Reuther asked that the public check their fire and smoke detectors and be aware of anything unusual in their neighborhoods.

"If you see any suspicious activity, call the PD or the fire department," he said.

Gray said this second apartment fire might spur some property owners to equip their buildings with secure entrances.

The Sun and The Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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