Burning cardboard ignites garage at Center Line business
A suspected arson fire damaged a garage and various contents, including two vehicles, at Dealers Discount Crafts & Florals on 10 Mile Road, east of Van Dyke, May 10.
Posted May 19, 2017
CENTER LINE — Was it malice, pyromania, or something else?
An arson investigation was ongoing in Center Line May 17, a week after a man who had apparently arrived and left on a bike allegedly set fire to a bale of cardboard recyclables stored next to a garage at Dealers Discount Crafts & Florals on 10 Mile Road, east of Van Dyke, in Center Line.
The burning cardboard ignited the garage and destroyed two vehicles, a forklift, several pallets of merchandise, landscaping equipment, tools and other items, for a total loss of about $300,000 on May 10.
A reward of up to $10,000 is now being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible. The suspect was described as a white man wearing glasses, with short blondish hair, a scruffy beard and a possible tattoo on his right calf. He reportedly arrived on a red, silver and black mountain bike and was wearing black shorts and a black hooded sweatshirt with red lettering.
“He got there at 7:30 p.m. and the fire started at 8:15 p.m.,” store manager Vince Paine said.
He said employees reported seeing the man outside before they left for the day, sitting at a picnic table for about 45 minutes. He then apparently spent about five minutes by the bale of cardboard next to the garage on the west end of the property, set back away from the business.
Paine said much of the incident was captured on surveillance video.
“As soon as he lit it, he turned around. He pedaled back across the parking lot and sat there under our camera and waited for a few minutes until he saw smoke, and then he took off,” Paine said.
Employees reportedly said they don’t believe that the man is a former employee or a disgruntled customer.
The investigation continued as police sought to learn more about any similar incidents in nearby communities involving instances of arson with no motive other than an apparent desire to set something on fire.
“Obviously, we want to talk to him,” said Lt. Tom Costello, of the Center Line Public Safety Department. “Who was this, and why did he do it?”
The $10,000 reward includes $5,000 offered through the Michigan Arson Prevention Committee.
Dealers Discount Crafts & Florals has been at its present location since 1991. The company has been in business since 1974.
Anyone with information about the suspect or the fire should call the Center Line Public Safety Department at (586) 757-2200 or (800) 44-ARSON.
About the author
Staff Writer Brian Louwers covers the cities of Warren and Center Line. He has worked for C & G Newspapers since 1998 and is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. In his free time, he participates in the Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program and conducts interviews with military veterans for the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.
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