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Published: Wednesday, 3/8/2006

Monroe Township house fire suspicious, officials rule

MONROE A fire of suspicious origin yesterday destroyed a Monroe Township home, authorities said.

No one was home when the blaze on Lake Street was discovered about 7:10 a.m. by neighbors. By the time township firefighters arrived, the front porch had collapsed and much of the frame house was engulfed in flames. LaSalle Township firefighters assisted in battling the blaze, which was brought under control about 9:30 p.m., Monroe Township Fire Inspector Calvin Schmitt said.

A Michigan State Police dog brought in from Lansing discovered suspicious fire markings in the living room and utility room, indicating that the blaze likely was set intentionally, Mr. Schmitt said.

The home s owner, Willie Jones, Jr., was at work at the time of the fire. Mr. Jones, an African-American, called police two weeks ago after two white men in a pickup truck shouted racial slurs at him as he walked home from a neighborhood store, Mr. Schmitt said.

The house and its contents, none of which were salvageable, were insured for $139,000, Mr. Schmitt said.

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