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Published: Wednesday, 1/9/2013

B.G. house target of burglary, arson

BOWLING GREEN - Fire investigators say someone apparently burglarized an East Wooster Street house rented by three Bowling Green State University students before setting it ablaze.

The fire was reported by Bowling Green police Lt. Gary Spencer, who saw the smoke as he was patrolling in the area about midnight Friday. He notified the fire department, then tried to enter the house to see whether anyone was inside.

Lt. Brad Conner, spokesman for the police division, said Lieutenant Spencer found the front door locked and tried another door. It was unlocked.

A sign declaring the fire the work of an arsonist was posted on the front porch of the two-story house across from the BGSU campus yesterday. A $5,000 reward is being offered through the Ohio Blue Ribbon Arson Committee.

Lt. Tom Mauk said the fire appears to have started in an upstairs bedroom, though the blaze remains under investigation. “We suspect it to be arson because the doors had been opened prior to our entry, and the people who rent it were away on Christmas break, and items were missing from the house,” he said.

He declined to say what had been stolen.

Lieutenant Conner said police helped go through the house looking for evidence.

The upstairs sustained heavy smoke and fire damage. Boards covered the windows yesterday, and the white siding was blackened. Steve Smith of Bowling Green owns the house.

The fire was the latest in a string in the city, though this is the first in recent weeks to be declared an arson.

On New Year's Day, a former plastics-recycling center on Pike Street burned down after some workers removing light fixtures inside mistakenly thought they had turned off the power. Five city firefighters were hurt when a wall collapsed on them.

On Dec. 12, a popular bowling alley on North Main Street was destroyed by fire that broke out in the pro shop. Fire investigators later determined that the blaze at Al-Mar Colonial Lanes was accidental and caused by an electrical problem.

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