Police seek second man in connection with arson in Rantoul
URBANA — A Rantoul man is being held at the Champaign County Jail on $25,000 bond following his arrest for arson in connection with a fire that totaled one mobile home and damaged a second one.
Meanwhile, Rantoul Police Chief Paul Farber said on Thursday evening that police were looking for a second suspect in connection with the arson.
Brandon A.F. Young, 21, who was listed as homeless from Rantoul, pleaded innocent on Thursday to arson.
Young was arrested for arson at 5:32 p.m. Wednesday in the 1300 block of Cypress Lane.
Judge Richard Klaus set Young's next court appearance for Oct. 23.
Rantoul Fire Chief Ken Waters said firefighters were called to a vacant two-bedroom mobile home at 1211 Cypress Lane in the Heritage Estates Mobile Home Park at 4:57 p.m. Wednesday.
Waters said nobody was at home at the time because the residents had been evicted Tuesday night. He said the building was owned by the mobile-home park.
Since there are no fire hydrants in the Heritage Estates Mobile Home Park, Waters said, the Rantoul Fire Department had to bring in a tanker truck to spray a total of 7,000 gallons of water on the mobile home.
Waters described the building as a total loss, and he estimated the loss at $10,000.
As the fire continued to burn, firefighters also worked to protect a nearby mobile home at 1213 Cypress Lane, but the fire still caused an estimated $4,000 damage to the exterior of that building, damaging the plastic underpinning, a door to the water heater, a nearby shed and a satellite dish that had been mounted on the mobile home.
Four people inside that mobile home escaped without injury.
According to police, a witness told officers they were in the front yard when Young ran up to them, tripped and fell and stated that he and another person had set fire to the mobile home.
The witness said Young was breathing heavily and "freaking out," according to Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Weber.
A second witness told police that Young and another man had been drinking large amounts of vodka earlier that day.
When police found Young nearby; they said he had the odor of alcohol on his breath and black soot on his face, neck and hands. He also had a lighter in his pants pocket, according to the report.
While Young initially denied having anything to do with the fire, he later admitted that he and the second man had both entered the mobile home.
Young said he had put a hole in the wall and was flipping things over in the mobile home while the second man set fire to a couch in the living room using what he thought was a lighter.
Young told police he left the trailer because he "got smoked out."