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December 5, 2012

Logansport man arrested in downtown fire

Harding has initial hearing today

LOGANSPORT — A 52-year-old Logansport man will appear in court today after he was accused of starting the Thanksgiving day fire on Sixth Street.

Earl Westley Harding was arrested Monday on the charge of arson, for reportedly igniting the warehouse. Harding is scheduled to appear in Cass County Circuit Court, where he faces the class D felony of arson.

First Detective Sgt. D.J. Sommers of the Logansport Police Department said the department brought Harding in for questioning Monday after the Logansport Fire Department obtained video evidence showing Harding in the area of the warehouse before the fire started.

Fire Investigator Jason Miller said the video does not show Harding starting the fire, but rather shows him as the only one in the area before the fire began.

In the interview, Sommers said Harding confessed to setting the fire, stating that he did not know why he had set it.

“The only real thing that he said is that he said is that he wasn’t in his right mind,” Sommers said.

Miller said the fire was started between 4 and 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 22 at the vacant two-story building. There were no injuries in the fire and firefighters had the blaze contained by about 5:30 p.m.

Sommers said Harding had reportedly used a lighter to start the fire and had attempted to extinguish the fire after it was started.

The fire department did not have a cause for the fire up until Harding’s interview, Miller said.

“Until the point he confessed, it was an undetermined fire,” Miller said.  

Sommers said he did not believe Harding had a connection to the building. Harding remains in Cass County Jail on a $5,000 cash bond or $25,000 surety.

Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or caitlin.huston@pharostribune.com.

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