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Arson suspect held

As fire crews battled a blaze that threatened to engulf a west-end home early yesterday, police arrested a man who stood watching the flames — then charged him with setting the fire.

As fire crews battled a blaze that threatened to engulf a west-end home early yesterday, police arrested a man who stood watching the flames — then charged him with setting the fire.

Now that man is the subject of a broader investigation bent on determining whether or not he is the west-end arsonist.

“We’re trying to keep everything quiet,” Det. Judy Nosworthy said. “The investigation is ongoing and we don’t want to jeopardize any future evidence that may come to light.”

In the last year and a half, a firebug has lit a string of at least 22 worsening blazes in the area. The spree climaxed last week with a fire that caused $200,000 in damage and forced a family to flee from a home just minutes before it was gutted by flames.

The identity of the current suspect has not been released, so as not to bias witness statements and stymie the probe, police said yesterday.

Aside from revealing he was intoxicated at the time of his arrest yesterday, detectives are saying little about the man taken into custody after fire destroyed a garage, car and shed on both sides of a semi-detached home on St. Mark’s Road, a quiet residential street just north of Bloor West Village.

Ellen Hartmann lives in the semi-detached home where the fire was set yesterday. Hartmann said police told her brother the man had already been a suspect, one of at least four, in the string of neighbourhood arsons under investigation.

After consultations with a Crown attorney yesterday, investigators amended the charges against the suspect several times, finally settling on one count of arson and two counts of prowl by night.

 
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