Man charged with arson after saying cigar started fatal Butler County fire

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office has charged a man in connection to a fatal Sunday evening trailer fire in Madison Twp.

James Johnson, 56, was booked into the Middletown City Jail today for aggravated arson, according to Sgt. Kim Peters and jail officials.

Emergency crews were called about 8:06 p.m. Sunday to the blaze at Catalina Manufactured Home Community on Germantown Road. Sheriff’s deputies said the trailer was already engulfed in flames when they arrived. The deputies attempted to get to the occupant’s bedroom, but due to the intensity of the fire in front of the trailer, they were unable to make entry.

Steven C. Strain, 59, was found dead in the mobile home. At the scene, Johnson told deputies he was smoking a cigar and laid it down on a roll of toilet paper, causing a fire.

The Butler County Coroner’s Office listed the preliminary cause of death as smoke inhalation and the preliminary manner of death as an accident.

The trailer home was a total loss from the fire, according to Madison Twp. Fire Chief Kent Hall. He said estimated damages were $15,000 to the trailer and $2,000 to the contents.

Hall confirmed firefighters had put out a blaze at the same trailer on Aug. 12. During that fire, three trailer park employees pulled Johnson from inside the rear door and remove him from the trailer. He is the original owner of the trailer, according to fire officials.

About the Authors