String of Fires Set in Ohio Remain Unsolved

October 17, 2011

A string of four fires labeled arson, including a blaze that destroyed a historic building in a northeast Ohio village, remains unsolved one year later despite a $5,000 reward.

Investigators still are not releasing much information about the fires. One destroyed the Garver Flea Market in Strasburg in northern Tuscarawas County the others damaged a church and two businesses in southern Stark County. The fires were all set within about two hours.

Investigators don’t want to give out much information about the fires that were set from late Oct. 13, 2010 into the next morning because the cases all remain active, said Shane Cartmill, a spokesman for the State Fire Marshal’s office. Information still withheld from the public includes the method used to start the fires.

“It’s not certain that all four fires were set by the same person or people,” but “given the timeline and the proximity, they’re probably related,” Cartmill said. He said investigators have followed up on tips, “but just not enough to put the case over the top.”

Cartmill says the guilty person or people probably will get comfortable and eventually may talk about it.

“What’s going to happen is someone in the community is going to hear something,” Cartmill said.

While investigators try to solve the case, a village resident says the loss of the building that housed the flea market was a blow to village pride.

“It’s hurt the town,” said Debbie Emig, who was born and raised in Strasburg.

She remembers the building now marked only by a field of weeds and a For Sale sign as the Garver Brothers General Store, its name from 1903 until it was bought in 1970 and became the flea market.

She said that it hurt flea market vendors the most financially, but also was “a loss to the people who grew up here.”

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