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Ranson man faces arson, attempted murder charges

April 09, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE and DAVE MCMILLION

RANSON, W.Va. - A 43-year-old Ranson man was charged with first-degree arson and five counts of attempted murder following a fire that started in the basement of a house at 43 Circle St. Wednesday nigt, a Jefferson County Sheriff's Department spokesman said.

Chief Deputy Jesse Jones said Michael O'Donnell, who lived in the basement of the burned residence, was arrested without incident at around 5 p.m. Thursday in Ranson not far from the scene of the fire.

O'Donnell was not believed to be related to the family who owned the house, Jones said. "He had been living in the basement for some time," he said.

O'Donnell was being held in the Eastern Regional Jail Thursday night, Jones said.

The house is owned by Dale Chapman, fire officials said.

Jones said the five attempted murder counts filed against O'Donnell stemmed from the fact that five members of the Chapman family were in the house when the fire was discovered at 11:45 p.m. All got out safely, fire officials said.

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There was heavy fire in the basement when the first units arrived, Chief Ed Smith of Independent Fire Co. said.

Firefighters were able to get the fire under control in about 15 minutes, Smith said.

The Chapman family had to find another place to stay Wednesday night due to damage to their home. The damage estimate was about $100,000, Smith said.

The house is outside the Ranson city limits, officials said.

Circle Street, which used to be named Edgewood Street, is off W.Va. 115 across from a Chinese restaurant, Smith said.

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