Arson investigators looking for suspect after string of fires

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by Brooke Hasch

WHAS11.com

Posted on July 22, 2014 at 4:03 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 22 at 4:22 PM

Overnight fires

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Arson investigators are looking into who and what caused a string of fires in Old Louisville early Tuesday morning.

They say three fires were intentionally set in trash and recycling bins, one of which caused severe damage to a local bar.

More than 30 firefighters responded to the first fire at 3:30 a.m. at The Tavern, located at 4th and Gaulbert Avenue. Two other fires were set in alleys at 3rd and Magnolia as well as 1st and Ormsby.

All fires are related and were intentionally set and all were started in either a recycling bin or garbage can adjacent to the structures. All fires occurred within 30 minutes. Only the Tavern fire spread to a structure.

Officials said the suspect is a black male, 6’ tall, medium to heavy build, blue jeans shorts, white shirt and baseball hat.

Officials say there was a fourth fire that is related to the other fires.

"It could've been a lot worse," Scott Lukemire, the owner of The Tavern, said.

Lukemire watched from the street as his hard work slowly washed away as heavy smoke and water lines filled his business.

"I hope they get back in business very soon," Paulet Cross, a neighbor, said.

Locals said the newly renovated bar had become a hot spot in the Old Louisville neighborhood.
"It happens. All we can do is move forward. What else can you do? I'm not going to sit here and feel sorry for myself," Lukemire said.

Lukemire said it's hard to understand why someone would intentionally set a fire at his business and then continue on to two other sites.

"Regretfully, we had a lot of recycling to go out and it happened to light that cardboard on fire and it kindled fast," Lukemire said.

Lukemire had just installed a new roof and interior to his bar, all of which will have to be replaced after receiving heavy water damage.

"We spent the last year doing what we did already to make this a bright spot for the neighborhood. So, yea, it's some adversity. It's a setback but can we move forward and make it even better? We can. So, we look forward to that," Lukemire said.

He's now looking to reach out to neighboring businesses to help give jobs to those now without one. It's Lukemire's hope they'll be able to return in a few short months, to a reopening, bigger and better than its original.

"We'll come back. It just takes time. It'll be OK," Lukemire said.

Lukemire said the bar closed just before 3 a.m. leaving the building vacant when the fire ignited half an hour later. No one was severely injured; however, a firefighter was taken to the hospital for a minor back injury after helping contain the fire. 

Metro Arson Squad is requesting any information the public may have regarding the incidents to call 574-3721.

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