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Authorities continue fire investigation

Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, November 10, 2004

After a string of unexplained fires at Castle Point Apartments nearly four weeks ago, investigations continue into possible causes, including arson.”We still have three open cases regarding that and until we close any one of them; they’re all open because they occurred in the same complex,” Clay fire marshal Dave Cherrone said. “That’s their common denominator.”In addition to the Indiana state marshal and the Clay fire marshal’s involvement, Castle Point has hired a private company as a third party to investigate.”We welcome [the private investigation] because it gives you someone else to bounce information off of to see if they see something that you didn’t, to test some things that may not have been initially tested,” Cherrone said. “That’s a standard thing because insurance companies have a financial interest and they want to make sure they are getting the best they can for the tenants money.”Since the fires took place right before fall break, it was difficult for authorities to begin a prompt and complete investigation, as many residents had left for the week.”We still have some people that we are questioning,” Cherrone said. “We are just hoping that we get some definitive answers in the next week or so.”Cherrone confirmed the trashcan fires have been listed as arson because of their location and time. The third fire, which damaged two apartment units, is still listed as undetermined. Though all three cases remain open, there are suspects for the first two fires.”We had already begun, of course, the investigation in regards to the trashcan incidents before the other fire occurred,” Cherrone said. “There were some people who were questioned in regards to that and some who we are still looking at as far as those two.”Castle Point has increased lighting in dark areas of the complex, added smoke detectors and enforced stricter rules for gaining access to laundry rooms following the fires. An increased number of safety patrollers have also been hired to watch the grounds.”They’ve done a lot of things on their own to ensure that the area stays safer,” Cherrone said. “They already had a list of things they wanted to improve upon before the trashcan fires. Hopefully people will notice the changes as time goes on.”An apartment was displaced for a length of time following the third fire, though Castle Point owners Raed and Hani Zidan, began immediate work to deal with the damage.”They immediately cleaned the contents and started painting to get those people back where they belong, which is a big thing to undertake in any situation because you get a lot of smoke damage,” Cherrone said. “Part of the investigation is dealing with all of the people who were affected in some way.”The owners are being cooperative with Cherrone in this lengthy process.”Our investigation will continue until we actually have something or someone that states that they were responsible for any of the events,” Cherrone said. “But the people there are very cooperative and have been very cooperative, so that’s a big plus.”