Urbana man pleads guilty to setting fire in own apartment building

Urbana man pleads guilty to setting fire in own apartment building

URBANA — An Urbana man who admitted to setting a fire in his own apartment building over a year ago while angry faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison when sentenced next month.

Travis Vandiver, 31, who last lived in the 800 block of Kerr Avenue, pleaded guilty last week before Judge Roger Webber to arson stemming from a May 2, 2018, fire he set in his own building after drinking alcohol.

Webber set sentencing for July 15.

In return for Vandiver's guilty plea, Assistant State's Attorney Kristin Alferink agreed to seek no more than five years in prison — instead of the seven Vandiver could face — and dismiss a more serious charge of aggravated arson carrying a mandatory prison term of between six and 30 years.

After the plea, Webber agreed to release Vandiver on his own recognizance but ordered him to wear an alcohol-monitoring bracelet.

Alferink said about 12:40 a.m. on that Wednesday, Urbana police and firefighters were sent to the Town and Country apartment complex, where two people told them that Vandiver was in their apartment earlier, got upset, then left.

Shortly after, they opened their door and saw a small fire outside in the hallway. They also saw Vandiver leaving down the back stairs of the building.

During a safety sweep — no residents were hurt — police found a bottle of lighter fluid just inside the door of Vandiver's apartment. He was caught later in Rantoul and arrested. The pants he was wearing had accelerant on them, Alferink said.

Police said fire damage was limited to the carpet and floor in front of the victims' apartment, and at least two ceiling lights were melted.

The building where the fire was set has 16 apartments.

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