WARREN - A man and woman escaped a Tuesday night house fire that officials determined was intentionally set. Investigators are questioning a suspect in the arson.
The two occupants, Tenesha McKinney, 40, and David Garrett, were out of the fully engulfed house at 393 Charles Ave. S.E. when fire crews arrived just before 11 p.m. They were not hurt, officials said.
Warren fire Chief Ken Nussle said investigators believe the fire may have been started on the front porch and that the two-story wood frame, the last house on the dead end street, is a "total loss."
Police had gone to the home earlier in the evening after receiving reports of a disturbance there involving Leslie D. Walker Jr., 55, of 677 Third St. S.W.
Police found Walker, who is identified on a Warren police report as a suspect in the fire, around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday standing beside a broken-down vehicle on the railroad tracks on Niles Road S.E. by South Street.
Walker was arrested on a warrant stemming from an earlier traffic incident. He was taken to the Warren police station, where he was given a blood-alcohol breath test.
He was booked into the Trumbull County Jail on a charge of violating a protection order, OVI and a misdemeanor falsification charge.
He arraigned Wednesday in Warren Municipal Court on the falsification charge. His bond was set at $2,500 and he has a pretrial scheduled Sept. 3.
McKinney told investigators that someone had set fire to her residence on Tuesday while she and Garrett were inside. She stated that Walker had been there earlier in the evening and that she had a protection order against him. McKinney told police that Walker had sent several messages to her cell phone stating that he "was going to burn her house down," the police report states.
Firefighters, including investigators, were at the fire scene for more than two hours. Nussle said it is not known yet whether an accelerant was used.
The damage estimate is $25,000 for the structure and $15,000 to the contents. The owner is John Vrontos.