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Yet Another Arson in Galena, This Time With an Arrest - KOAM TV 7

Yet Another Arson in Galena, This Time With an Arrest

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GALENA, KANSAS -

A suspect is arrested after yet another arson fire in Galena.  Officials say they've had to deal with more than a dozen arson fires with no arrests.

But there's a potential break in the investigation.

Emergency officials have been trying to get a tally of how many arson fires they've recently seen.  They say the challenge is there's been so many of those fires.

"It's really unreal.  Yes it is.  It's really unreal," says Galena Fire Chief Bill Hall.

Officials say a fire inside a shed last night, in the north end of Galena by railroad tracks, means there have been as many as 13 arsons over the past two months.  The first eight were grass fires.  The last five have been structure fires.

"When you've got a serial arsonist in the county, that obviously poses a danger," says Cherokee County Attorney Jake Conard.

Hall says a suspect was finally arrested near the shed fire after officers saw a male running away from the fire.

"He apparently had a lighter in his hand," says Hall.

Conard says he can't release if the suspect confessed to light the shed on fire.

"There is still an ongoing investigation, so we can't comment on that at this time," says Conard.

But Conard says he will investigate to see if the suspect from the shed fire can be linked to other arson fires.  Authorities are also still investigating whether all the fires themselves are connected.

In the meantime, the suspect is free on bond.

"Obviously I have some concerns for community safety with an individual being released from jail on that (charge).  But that's the way our laws are set up.  You're innocent until proven guilty.  You've got a right to a bond.  You've got a right to post that bond," says Conard.

Hall agrees that people may be more fearful of their safety when a person suspected of at least one arson is out of jail.  But the fire chief hopes this suspect knows officials will be keeping close eyes on him.

Conard says charges on this suspect will probably be filed next week.

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