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Police Say Homeless Man Starts Fire In Abandoned House

Last updated on Sunday, May 27, 2012

(BLOOMINGTON) - Bloomington police arrested a homeless man who turned himself in to police and said he started a house fire on West First Street Thursday evening after setting a bedroll of blankets on fire the same morning.

Abby Tonsing, of the Herald-Times reports Police arrested Steven Ray Short, 35, on preliminary charge of arson and criminal mischief. He remained at the Monroe County Jail Friday on a $20,000 surety, $500 cash bond. Short's jail booking sheet lists he's from Heltonville.

Officers were called to assist Bloomington fire investigators at a house fire at 314 W. First St. just before 6 p.m. Thursday.

Investigators and detectives suspected arson, because the house was in the process of being demolished, Bloomington police Sgt. John Kovach said. All of the electrical wiring had been stripped from the house, as were the doors and windows.

While detectives were at the scene of the fire, Short turned himself in at the police station, Kovach said. Short reported that he had been walking by the house and decided to start the fire. Short told police he used toilet paper, small pieces of wood and matches to spark the fire in a back bedroom.

Short said he checked the house, to make sure no one was inside, before starting the fire, Kovach said.

When asked about another fire Thursday morning, Short admitted to that one as well.
He said that he's homeless and spent the night on the 200 block of First Street at the abandoned bulk oil facility, behind the Seminary Square Kroger.
He reported that a man sleeping near him had a dog that barked all night, and he didn't get to sleep.

Short told police that he waited for the other man to leave in the morning, after 10 a.m., and he set fire to this man's bedroll of blankets, Kovach said.
Short told police he had been drinking earlier in the day.

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