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Butler police seek suspect who intentionally set fire to fence

November 4, 2012 News Extra

Butler police and fire investigators are trying to find the person who intentionally set fire to a wooden fence early this morning that nearly ignited a house in the 600 block of East Jefferson Street.

“The very first board on the fence was set on fire and it blackened the (aluminum) siding of the house,” said Butler Fire Chief Nick Ban.

That fence butts up against Matthew Straub and Rachelle Aulenbacher’s house.

The couple was sleeping about 1:25 a.m. when Straub got up to use the bathroom.

“He smelled something smoky inside the house,” Ban said, “and he immediately woke up (Aulenbacher) and they ran outside.”

They initially feared the home was on fire and notified police.

“They said the front left corner of the house on the Jefferson Street side appeared to be on fire,” Ban said, “but it turned out to be a wooden privacy fence.”

The house never caught fire but firefighters found remnants of burned paper towels around the fence.

Investigators said they suspect that the unknown arsonist got the towels from the Honey Bear convenience store on East Jefferson Street, less than a block away from the house.

The store was closed at the time of the fire.

Investigators said they plan today to review surveillance video from cameras at the store and the Butler Ambulance Service building behind the store.