RACINE — Charges have been filed and a trial set regarding an arson which occurred in May in Racine.
On May 2, a fire at 307 Fifth Street in Racine, residence of Brian E. Durham, 40, was determined to be arson by investigators of the Division of State Fire Marshal. The fire damaged the second floor and attic of the residence which was an occupied structure though no one was home at the time of the fire or injured, according to Shane Cartmill, spokesperson for the state fire marshal’s office. Investigators are alleging Durham set the fire and then left before firefighters arrived, Cartmill added.
In August, Durham was charged with aggravated arson and insurance fraud, counts which he pleaded not guilty to and was released on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond with $50,000 surety and $5,000 appearance with 10 percent allowed.
Cartmill said in regards to the insurance fraud charge, this had to do with Durham’s vehicle, saying he allegedly damaged his vehicle, made an insurance claim and then within a few hours the house fire occurred. It was during the course of the fire investigation that investigators with the fire marshal’s office learned about the vehicle damage and subsequent insurance claim, Cartmill explained.
“The insurance fraud is part of a pattern of criminal activity which happened prior to the fire,” Cartmill added.
After the arson occurred, the Division of State Fire Marshal announced a $5,000 reward was being offered in the case via the Blue Ribbon Arson Committee which is sponsored by insurance underwriters. In this case, no one provided enough information to be eligible for a reward, Cartmill said.
Durham’s trial has been scheduled for Oct. 25 in Meigs County Common Pleas Court. An investigator with the state fire marshal’s office will likely be in Meigs County later this week or next to get more details about their part in the upcoming trial.
Various agencies have assisted in the prosecution and investigation of this case, including the Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Meigs County Sheriff’s Office and Racine Fire Department which initially determined the fire was suspicious.