Man suspected of lighting apartment on fire

Picture of siren

NEWTON—Following an investigation, Newton Police arrested Darren Olson, 40, Newton, on aggravated arson charges for failing to alert authorities or put out a fire on June 5.

Newton Fire Marshal Andy Harder said Newton Fire and EMS responded to a fire call at 9:52 a.m. that morning.

He said they arrived at the Parkwood Apartments at 425 S.E. 14th St.

Crews arrived and found an apartment full of smoke,” Harder said.

As crews made it inside, Harder said they found a recliner on fire. They put it out.

Harder said crews extinguished the fire and that no one was home at the apartment during the time of the fire. He said the apartment did not sustain much damage outside of smoke.

Harder said upon investigation of the fire, “It was determined to be a set fire.”

Harder declined to release more details about the findings that led him to that conclusion.

Harvey County Now reached out Tuesday to the Newton Police Department for more information, but the administration was out on training.

Erin McDaniel, public information officer for the City of Newton, did provide a bit of more information on the incident.

She said, following an investigation, authorities think Olson was staying at the residence but did not permanently live there.

Newton Police believe he fell asleep with a lit cigarette and caught a piece of furniture on fire. He then left without attempting to extinguish the fire or calling for help with the fire.

McDaniel said Olson later returned to the apartment, where he was arrested. She said the lack of intervention resulted in the arson charge Olson faces and that police do not believe he intentionally set the fire.

Olson currently is being held in the Harvey County Jail on a charge of aggravated arson with a $50,000 bond.

The police department has previously arrested Olson twice since the end of April. One arrest involved a pending charge of felony theft and the other for burglary.

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