“Arson – a reward up to $5,000.” That’s the wording on a sign in the window of 2337 Grant St. in Portsmouth after an early morning fire Thursday.
“It’s a house they turned into two apartments,” Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison said. “There were three people living upstairs, two people living downstairs.”
Raison said the occupants upstairs had to climb out an upstairs window onto the porch. The downstairs occupants also got out of the house.
“There was heavy damage to the house,” Raison said.
Raison said the fire broke out between 3:15 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. Thursday.
“It appears to be an intentionally set fire,” Raison said. “We’ve actually posted the house as a suspected arson.”
Raison did not have a list of the occupants from the fire.
By the early hours of daylight, investigators were at the scene looking for evidence. Investigators from the Portsmouth Fire Department, including Raison and Bob Long, were joined by investigators from the Fire Marshal’s Office.
The crime of arson is intentionally burning a building. Often, however, the act of intentionally burning a building creates serious risk of harm to people as well. Aggravated arson is the crime of creating a substantial risk of serious physical harm to a person other than the arsonist.
Penalties for Ohio arson and aggravated arson charges. For fourth degree or third degree felony arson, the penalty is 6 months to five years in jail, with fines of up to $10,000. For a second degree or first degree aggravated felony arson, the penalty is two to 10 years in prison, with fines of up to $20,000.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.