BATESVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - Investigators in Independence County are looking for an arsonist they say lit a parole and probation office on fire early Monday morning. Authorities estimate the damage done to the building at $100,000 to $150,000, calling that "a conservative estimate."
Lt. Mike Mundy with the Independence County Sheriff's Department credits good work by his officers and the Batesville Fire Department in saving the building where the fire started.
"We routinely have officers on patrol throughout the county and throughout the city of Batesville, and they do check the backs of buildings and whatnot specifically for things such as this," said Mundy. "We've got a real good patrol group. They take their job very seriously. They get very upset whenever there is a burglary or a break-in, and they don't catch it. They get very upset about it."
Shortly after 2 a.m. Monday, an officer on patrol noticed a broken window at the city's parole and probation office for the Department of Community Correction, then he noticed the fire.
Once local authorities determined the cause of the fire as arson, they brought in Arkansas State Police to help with the investigation. They have identified a person of interest in the case, but would not name that person because they want to have all their evidence in order when the time comes to make an arrest.
"We're early in the investigation," said Mundy. "Basically we're 48 hours into it, so we're trying to keep a lot of things close to the vest at this point in time until we actually have enough to charge someone."
Investigators have started sending evidence from Monday's fire to the state crime lab for testing and said their next order of business will be finding that person of interest and talking to them.