Arrest made in downtown fire

By Nick Schneider

A Linton man is behind bars in connection with the July 1 pre-dawn fire that destroyed Petro Tire Company and warehouse in downtown Linton.

Linton police arrested Chance Schubla, 20, of Linton, about 5 p.m. Monday, according to police chief

Formal charges of arson -- a class A felony -- were filed Tuesday morning against Schubla after review by Greene County prosecutor David Powell.

Schubla was incarcerated at the Greene County jail. Bond was set at $40,000.

No initial court date was set.

McDonald said he was pleased an arrest came just 12 days after the Indiana State Fire Marshal's office and an investigator with the federal Bureau of Firearms, Tobacco and Alcohol (FTA) probed the scene for nearly three days after the fire looking for clues of how the blaze started.

The police chief said detective Troy Jerrell headed the investigation and had plenty of help from other officers.

"We spent a lot of time on this case. We ran down every possible lead. We probably exceeded 100 hours on this case," McDonald said. "Arson is just a tough case to investigate and the guys did a good job."

Details surrounding the arrest and how the fire was set were not immediately released by police.

Last Wednesday, officials tabbed the cause of the fire as arson and announced a $5,000 reward was being offered for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the fire.

"It was set somewhere in or around a dumpster at the rear of the warehouse building," Linton Fire Chief Lonnie Eberhardt said.

A $5,000 reward was being offered by the Indiana Arson and Crime Association, Inc. in cooperation with the Indiana State Fire Marshal's office and the property insurance companies in the state of Indiana. The exact amount of the reward will depend on the value of the information.

Petro officials have not announced the dollar loss in the blaze. However , they have announced plans to remains in business in Linton.

The inferno-like fire ignited in the northeast corner of the warehouse building at the corner of First Street and East Vincennes Street -- in an area where a large number of oxygen and acetylene tanks used in welding were stored. The blaze then jumped the alley and set the tire store at 89 A Street NE, on fire, Eberhardt said.

When firefighters arrived on the scene they saw a large number of oxygen and acetylene tanks stored on the First Street side of the warehouse building. Soon a series of explosions followed as the heated tanks were turned into dangerous projectiles -- some were hurled several hundred yards from the fire. The exploding tanks caused extra concern for the fire crews that numbered about 50 from Linton, Bloomfiield, Jasonville, Wright Township and Sullivan, LFD chief Eberhardt said.

About 17 residents living in nearby apartments and the Roosevelt Mission, on East Vincennes Street, were quickly evacuated by police and other emergency personnel.

Two adjacent buildings -- the Margaret Cooper Public Library and the Greene-Sullivan Special Education Cooperative received smoke and heat damage or water damage caused by the fire.