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By TIM MITCHELL
and DAVE HINTON
Rantoul police have arrested a Rantoul man for arson in connection with a late-afternoon fire Wednesday that totaled one mobile home and damaged another nearby.
Nobody was reported hurt.
Rantoul police confirmed late Wednesday night that Brandon A.F. Young, 21, who is listed as homeless,, was arrested for arson at 5:32 p.m. in the 1300 block of Cypress Lane in the Heritage Estates mobile home park.
Young was taken to the Champaign County jail.
Rantoul Police Department reported that officers on the scene received information that two men were seen running from the area. A witness told police and directed officers to Young.
Police said they also learned a second male may be involved and is being sought for questioning.
The police department is asking that anyone with information on the incident to call the department at 217-892-2103.
Rantoul Fire Chief Ken Waters said firefighters were called to a vacant two-bedroom mobile home at 1211 Cypress Lane at 4:57 p.m. Wednesday.
Firefighters from Thomasboro and Gifford provided mutual aid.
“When we got there, we saw flames throughout the trailer, with the worst of it in the middle of the building,” Waters said. “The flames were rising 15 feet above the roof.”
Since there are no fire hydrants in the Heritage Estates Mobile Home Park, Waters said the Rantoul Fire Department had to bring in a tanker truck to spray a total of 7,000 gallons of water on the mobile home.
Waters said an unstable floor made it impossible for firefighters to enter the building.
“There was so much damage that it would have been easy for somebody to step through the floor,” Waters said. “So we cut outside holes around the trailer and fought it that way.”
Waters said nobody was at home at the time because the residents had been evicted Tuesday night. He said the building was owned by the mobile-home park.
He said firefighters had the fire under control by 5:40 p.m.
Waters described the building as a total loss, and he estimated the loss at $10,000.
As the fire continued to burn, firefighters also worked to protect a nearby mobile home at 1213 Cypress Lane, but the fire still caused an estimated $4,000 damage to the exterior of that building, damaging the plastic underpinning, a door to the water heater, a nearby shed and a satellite dish that had been mounted on the mobile home.
Four people inside that mobile home escaped without injury. Waters said they will be able to move back in.
Waters said the cause of the fire appeared to be suspicious because there was no power or gas to the structure.
Four people inside that mobile home escaped without injury.
According to police, a witness told officers they were in the front yard when Young ran up to them, tripped and fell and stated that he and another person had set fire to the mobile home.
The witness said Young was breathing heavily and "freaking out," according to Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Weber.
A second witness told police that Young and another man had been drinking large amounts of vodka earlier that day.
When police found Young nearby, they said he had the odor of alcohol on his breath and black soot on his face, neck and hands. He also had a lighter in his pants pocket, according to the report.
While Young initially denied having anything to do with the fire, he later admitted that he and the second man had both entered the mobile home.
Young said he had put a hole in the wall and was flipping things over in the mobile home while the second man set fire to a couch in the living room using what he thought was a lighter.
Young told police he left the trailer because he "got smoked out."
Waters said the fire call was one of four the fire department received within about two and a half hours Wednesday. All are believed to be unrelated. The department also received a fire call Thursday afternoon that blocked traffic on Interstate 57 for miles.
In the first call, a dryer overheated in the laundry at Abbott Acres Apartments, 1505 Hobson Drive. Firefighters were called at 4:04 p.m.
“We hauled the dryer out of the building. The fire was contained to the dryer, and smoke filled the attic,” Waters said.
He said a request was sent out for additional manpower when it appeared that the fire had extended to the attic, but it turned out to be unfounded.
At 4:33 p.m. firefighters were called to extricate a person involved in a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of Chandler Road and U.S. 45.
However, while en route to the scene, firefighters were told their services were not needed and that the person had been able to exit the vehicle.
According to Rantoul police, involved in the wreck were William Maier of Thomasboro and Rufus Kersh III of Rantoul.
Firefighters received the fire call at Heritage Estates trailer park about 30 minutes later.
At 6:50 p.m., firefighters responded to a call to Heritage Lake in south Rantoul, where an engine fire damaged a vehicle. Additional details were unavailable.
Rantoul firefighters also received a fire call about 1:35 p.m. Thursday that blocked traffic on Interstate 57 for miles.
A tire on a semi tractor trailer caught fire near mile marker 247, which caught grass on fire near the interstate.