Middletown man indicted for arson in huge New Year’s Day warehouse fire

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Joshua Lamb, the man charged with starting warehouse fire in Middletown appears in court

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A Butler County grand jury has indicted a man on felony charges for allegedly starting a fire on New Year’s Day at the former Middletown Paperboard facility on Verity Parkway.

Joshua Lamb, 35, was charged by Middletown police with arson just a few hours after the huge fire began. He was indicted today for arson, a fourth-degree felony, and aggravated arson, a second-degree felony. He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Butler County Common Pleas Court in the indicted charges.

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The fire burned for days and is estimated to cost the city more than $130,000 in demolition costs and firefighter overtime.

Lamb remains incarcerated in lieu of a $20,000 bond.

During a preliminary hearing last month in municipal court, Middletown Detective Steve Winters said Lamb, who is homeless, told him he started the fire. When he walked away to get more wood, his bedding caught fire and he fled the scene in the early morning on New Year’s Day.

Winters said he found Lamb in an alley on Broad Street, and during an interview that day at the police station, he told police four other homeless people lived at the facility on Verity Parkway.

WATCH: Videos capture walls collapsing, intense flames and smoke at Middletown vacant building fire

Middletown Fire Chief Paul Lolli said firefighters cleared the scene about 8 p.m. Jan. 3, but fire crews continued to do drive-bys throughout the night to make sure that any hotspots did not ignite.

The 11-acre site of 61 parcels is located at 300 S. Verity Parkway and had an estimated 400,000 to 600,000 square feet of space.

City officials said there were many ways of getting into the building. Crews previously boarded up windows and doors and put up fencing to deter people from entering the building, said Susan Cohen, acting city manager.

Lamb told police he entered the building through a garage door.

MORE: Homeless man charged with Middletown arson, says fire necessary to keep warm

Staff Writer Rick McCrabb contributed to this report