New Middletown task force investigating suspicious fires

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New Middletown task force investigating suspicious fires

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Middletown police and fire departments investigate a fire last September in the 1900 block of Court Donegal that caused about $400,000 in damages. Police and firefighters took 56 hours of training a little more than a year ago to investigate suspicious fires and formed the Middletown Fire Investigation Task Force. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The investigation that lead to a Middletown man’s recent indictment was the work of a new task force with special training in investigation of suspicious fires.

Police and firefighters took 56 hours of training a little more than a year ago to investigate suspicious fires and formed the Middletown Fire Investigation Task Force.

Police brought their criminal investigation skills to the table and firefighters brought their expertise in how fires burn.

“It has worked well. We have a great investigation team,” said Middletown Police Lt. James Cunningham.

The task force has been successful not just in catching criminals, according to Middletown Fire Chief Paul Lolli.

“It is making Middletown safer and making better use of resources,” he said.

Deputy Chief Jeff Spaulding, who has 20 years of fire investigation experience, said police officers and firefighters all bring something different to the table.

“It is taking advantage of everyone’s knowledge,” Spaulding said, noting sometimes investigation leads and ideas come from brainstorming.

Task force investigators said there were multiple points of origin in the fire at Ross Compton’s Court Donegal home last September.

Compton, 59, has been indicted by a Butler County grand jury on felony charges of aggravated arson and insurance fraud for allegedly starting the fire on Sept. 19 at his home.

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