Middletown man charged with arson after apartment fire

A Middletown man was charged with aggravated arson Thursday morning after he allegedly started a fire in his second-floor apartment in the 200 block of Curtis Street that caused more than $100,000 in damages, police said.

The resident, Bradley Bell, 23, allegedly got into an argument with his girlfriend, and she left around 3 a.m. Thursday. Less than two hours later, Bell allegedly used matches and ashes to start a fire in the two-bedroom apartment.

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The Middletown Fire Task Force investigated the fire, and after interviews, arrested Bell near Franklin Twp., said Lt. Jimmy Cunningham. Bell was with his girlfriend, and she isn’t facing charges at this time, Cunningham said.

A 3-year-old girl living in the apartment wasn’t at home when the fire started, Cunningham said.

Besides aggravated arson, Bell was charged with obstructing official business.

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The building is owned by Central Club LLC. Carl North, president of the organization, said the Alcoholic Anonymous meets there at noon every day and at night three times a week. The meetings will have to be moved if the building can’t be repaired, he said.

The Middletown Fire Department responded to the apartment at 5 a.m. Thursday and saw flames coming from the second floor, said Fire Chief Paul Lolli. He said firefighters searched for anyone in the apartment and no one was found. He said the fire was extinguished in about 15 minutes. There were no injuries, he said.

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Scottie, the city’s arson detection dog, was brought in to see if he could locate any accelerants possibly used to start the fire, but none was found, Lolli said.

Lolli praised the continued work being done by the city’s Fire Arson Task Force, a group of firefighters and police officers. He said the task force is doing “an incredible job” determining the cause of fires.

Last year, the task force investigated 70 fires, 15 that were determined possibly arson, according to Lolli.

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