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Man charged in connection with fire above restaurant

January 21, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A Martinsburg man was charged Tuesday in connection with a fire last week at an apartment above the Blue White Grill at the intersection of Queen and Burke streets.

Francis Issac Smith, 20, was charged with first-degree arson and nighttime burglary. He was in Eastern Regional Jail Tuesday night on $60,000 bond, a jail spokesman said.

In the arrest warrant, Detective Sgt. George Swartwood of the Martinsburg Police Department alleged that Smith told police he and another man broke into a neighbor's apartment on Jan. 15, took some items and then set the apartment on fire. Smith previously lived in Apartment 2 above the restaurant; the fire and burglary happened at Apartment 1, police said.

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Nobody was injured in the blaze, but seven people were displaced, Capt. David Brining previously said. Brining's investigation revealed the fire had been intentionally set, Swartwood said.

Damage to the four apartments and restaurant was estimated at about $150,000, Swartwood and Brining said.

The apartment where the fire started was above the back of the Blue White Grill. Because of smoke and water damage, the restaurant is temporarily closed.

Arrest warrants have been issued charging a second man, Joseph Lindsey, whose age and address were not provided, with arson and nighttime burglary. Lindsey was in Eastern Regional Jail on unrelated charges, police said.

In the statement he gave to police, Smith told officers how and where the fire was set, Swartwood said.

Conviction on a charge of arson carries a sentence of two to 20 years in prison.

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