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Firefighters: Arson blaze intended as neighborhood trap

"The fires were obviously set in an attempt to prevent the residents from escaping,"

By Andy Kravetz
The Journal Star

PEORIA, Ill. — A house fire deliberately set early Monday was intended to block residents from escaping, according to the Peoria Fire Department.

One person suffered smoke inhalation in the fire at 709 E. Ravine St., Battalion Chief Tony Ardis said in a news release.

The fire was "clearly an arson situation as fire was set in two locations and there was a strong odor of gasoline," the release said. "This is a particularly troubling situation as the fires were obviously set in an attempt to prevent the residents from escaping by blocking the means of egress with fire."

Firefighters were called about 3:30 a.m. and found a small fire at the east side door and a separate fire at the back door. They knocked the fire down within 10 to 15 minutes. Seven people were in the house and all were able to get out by themselves. Firefighters quickly extinguished both fires. The fire at the side door had just started to advance into the house when the firefighters arrived. A 20-year-old was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. No more information about the victim was available later Monday.

Total damage was estimated at $3,500 with little damage inside the structure, the department said.

Another fire was reported at 10:49 p.m. Sunday at 701 Fairholm. No injuries were reported, although firefighters found a man inside and escorted him outside. They also found fire on the home's back exterior. The fire was extinguished within minutes. Damage, estimated at $2,000, was limited to the outside. In a news release, Ardis said a passerby saw the fire and notified the residents. An investigator was on the scene, and the cause remains under investigation.

Copyright 2017 The Journal Star

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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