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    Man Allegedly Sets Multiple Fires In Kress Lofts Building; Residents Help Apprehend Him; Bldg. Sprinklers Work & Help LBFD Douse Fires

    (March 2, 2005, updated from initial post) -- LBPD has a man in custody (detained on scene by LB residents) allegedly responsible for igniting multiple overnight fires this morning (March 2) in the Kress Lofts building (5th/Pine).

    Thanks to the building's automatic sprinkler system, LB firefighters doused the flames with relatively minor damage.

    LBFD photo via BC/PIO Jeff Reeb

    Events began about 12:51 a.m. when LB's ECOC began receiving multiple 911 calls from the Kress Lofts building area reporting a man in the area carrying a can with some substance that he was allegedly tossing around and igniting.

    LBFD Public Information Officer Battalion Chief Jeff Reeb says firefighters found at least six fires, including one affecting an 8th floor unit.

    The Kress Lofts building met the dawn in good shape, thanks to a good automatic sprinkler system, LBFD says. LBFD photo via BC/PIO Jeff Reeb
    "The building is well constructed and its automatic sprinkler system did its job beautifully. It kept the fires small and helped us put them out," said BC/PIO Reeb.

    LBPD Public Information Officer Jackie Bezart says some citizens held a suspect for PD's arrival. The suspect is identified as Christopher Sean Thomas, 30, who's now facing charges of arson to an inhabited building (and also allegedly a parole violation). PIO Bezart says the suspect was also spotted last night purchasing a gas can and then bought gasoline at a local gas station.

    PIO Bezart says the building was evacuated for a few hours to ensure there were no lingering problems before people were let back inside.

    At dawn, BC/PIO Reeb estimated damage might be roughly [very rough initial figure] about $25,000 but might go higher with some water damage. The building is OK and (except for the 8th floor unit) occupants were allowed to return.

    [update] LBFD BC/PIO Reeb said at midafternoon March 2 that the arson suspect was arrested 30 days ago for attempting to break into the Kress building...and LBFD's Arson Unit has obtained video images from a service station of the suspect filling his gas can.

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