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July fire ruled an arson

By The Mercury

Authorities said Tuesday they have determined that a July house fire was an arson.

The July 1 fire caused a reported $50,000 structural damage as well as $40,000 damage to contents of a home at 531 Bertrand St. owner by Cadell Bynum.

Deputy fire chief Ryan Almes said in a statement issued Tuesday that fire officials came to the conclusion that the fire was intentionally set based on interviews with witnesses. Almes said RCPD investigators, in cooperation with fire investigators from the Manhattan Fire Department, are working in the investigation.

The fire was one of several suspicious incidents between early June and early July, although Almes said fire officials have not yet concluded that the incidents are related. Those incidents included a series of small fires set during the pre-dawn hours June 4 at various locations in the area of Denison and College Avenue. The Salvation Army store was damaged toward the end of June by a fire that has since been ruled arson, and firefighters also consider some small fires in dumpsters in the Northview area during that period to be suspicious, although no finding of cause has been made.

The most noteworthy arson case still on the books, of course, is the Strasser Village Apartment fire that destroyed an apartment complex under construction last year.

“We’re working all the cases individually at this point,” Almes said, although he acknowledged the possibility that “unknowns” could change that establish a link between some or all of the fires.

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