Deerfield fire is ruled an arson

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published:

Arson is being blamed for an early morning fire that destroyed a Deerfield cottage and damaged a neighboring home Tuesday.

Fire Chief Miles Felmly said nobody was injured in the pre-dawn blaze at 9260 Treasure Blvd. The 50- by 50-foot home was believed to be a summer cottage, as are many of the structures in the area.

The structure appeared to be under heavy remodeling with construction materials and furniture stacked outside the home.

A neighbor who lives 300 feet away reported the blaze at 3:38 a.m. after noticing flames reflecting on his windows.

Felmly said he ruled the fire as an arson, after seeing six plastic gasoline cans behind the house. None of them had caps on them, and all had small amounts of gas in them. He also said there were "distinct flammable liquid burn patterns" on the house.

"If you leave the cap off of a gas can, it's going to evaporate off," he said. "If you find one without a lid, you don't find gas in it because it all would evaporate away. It costs a lot of money and you don't want it to evaporate away."

About 12 Deerfield firefighters responded to the blaze, which was about four miles from the township's fire station.

Mutual aid was provided by the Atwater, Berlin and Beloit fire departments, and all supplied water supply tankers because there are no fire hydrants in the area.

Firefighters stayed on the scene until 7 a.m., Felmly said.

Felmly said the house is a total loss, with the inside gutted and only the exterior walls standing. Damage was estimated at $50,000 for the structure. The fire caused about $1,000 worth of damaged to the neighboring structure.

A summer home about 12 feet away had minor damage to vinyl siding that melted and a window that cracked from the heat. The house is owned by Pauline Hulea of Youngstown.

Felmly said tax records listed Charles Stewart of Akron as the owner. He was unable to reach Stewart by phone.

Further investigation will be done by the Portage County Sheriff's department, which was at the scene of the fire.

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