Man arrested for trying to set house on fire

Man arrested for trying to set house on fire

URBANA — An Urbana man remained in the Champaign County jail Monday after being arrested Sunday for allegedly setting fire to a house in Urbana while people were inside.

No one was hurt and the fire apparently went out on its own.

Police Sgt. Adam Chacon said Denzel Smith, 20, who listed an address in the 1600 block of North Lincoln Avenue, was arrested about noon on Sunday for aggravated arson.

Chacon said there were four residents inside the single-story home at 916 W. Eads St. Sunday morning. One of them reported about 8:45 a.m. that their home had been burned.

Fire Chief Mike Dilley said one of the adults living there opened the blinds and thought it was foggy out but soon learned that smoke had blackened the window. A check of the house showed that someone had tried to set fire to the outside of the home in two or three places, Dilley said.

Fire investigator Craig Dilley checked out the house and the chief said the younger Dilley had “no doubt it was incendiary.”

“He could smell some sort of ignitable liquid,” the chief said.

Police got a tip about Smith and were able to locate him about three hours later in Champaign. He was being held in the county jail in lieu of $15,000 bond and is due back in court Tuesday for formal charging.

Chief Dilley said none of the residents were harmed. He said he was amazed that the fire didn’t do more damage.

“Vinyl siding burns really quickly but it went out. I don’t know how,” he said.

Although Smith did not talk to police, they do not believe the house was randomly chosen.

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