2 fires, 2 alleged arsonists

Morrow Street residence

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Two house fires in Minden last Thursday have resulted in two arson arrests – one of a juvenile. According to Minden Police, the incidents are not connected.

Lt. Keith King Jr. said the first fire was set around 11 a.m. in the 800 block of Durwood. 

“That one was on Durwood over by Phillips School,” King said. As of Friday morning, he said, it is suspected arson, and the state fire marshal is investigating it.

Late Friday afternoon, the state fire marshal’s office arrested William O’Neal, 59, for simple arson. His bond was set at $30,000.

Fire number 2, on Morrow Street, was started around 2 p.m., allegedly by a male who was 11 or 12 years old. According to reports, he threw gasoline inside a window and set it on fire. The young male reportedly had been suspended from school for fighting.

“The fire department got there first, and (Fire Chief) Kip Mourad was there. A kid just walked up to him, and Mourad smelled gasoline,” King said. “He asked the juvenile what was going on, and the kid said ‘I was bored and caught the house on fire.’”

King described the juvenile as a “frequent flyer” with Minden Police. 

“He’s never committed arson before,” he said. “He has thrown bricks through windows and stuff like that.”

As of Friday, he was housed at Ware Youth Center in Coushatta.

Mourad said both houses experienced major damage. The Durwood Drive house was brick, while the Morrow Street house was wood frame.

“The kitchen and dining room suffered the most damage on Durwood,” Mourad said. “The fire was up in the attic, too. They (firefighters) made a great stop on it. It took us about two minutes to get it under control.”

The Morrow Street house damage was worse, he said.

“It was more involved; it got up in the attic of it, too,” Mourad said. “It took us about 10 minutes to get it under control, but there’s not much left of it.”

Mourad said fortunately, no one was home at either residence.

This information has been provided by a law enforcement agency as public information. Persons named as suspects in a criminal investigation, or arrested and charged with a crime, have not been convicted of any criminal offense and are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Red depicts Durwood Street

Red is Morrow Street residence

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