CLINTON — Officers with the Clinton Police Department have made an arrest in connection with two fires on July 7.
Dale R. Kohland, 45, was arrested Wednesday and charged with two counts of first degree arson after he started a vehicle on fire, then a vacant apartment in a four-unit complex he lived in.
Fire Marshal Mike Brown said fire crews were called to 514 Seventh Ave. South at 11:01 p.m. Saturday night for a report of a car fire. Upon arrival, firefighters found a four-door Dodge Intrepid sedan parked in the driveway and on fire, situated just over two feet from the residence. Fire crews quickly extinguished the blaze, containing the fire to the interior of the vehicle, and returned to Central Fire Station. The vehicle sustained an estimated $1,500 damage.
Within an hour, at 11:58 p.m., police, fire and emergency crews were called back to the same address, this time in response to a report of a house fire. Upon arrival, firefighters found light smoke but no visible flame. Police and fire personnel assisted one resident in exiting the building. Another resident sustained minor injuries while attempting to exit an apartment. Fire crews found light smoke on the first floor and encountered heavy smoke and heat on the second floor, locating the fire in apartment 3. Firefighters extinguished the fire in approximately 10 minutes, but remained on scene for 21⁄2 hours.
According to court documents, Brown determined both fires were intentionally set arson fires. While he could not release details relating to the fire investigation, Brown said it was obvious the fires were not accidental.
Two officers with the Clinton Police Department interviewed Kohland on Tuesday. According to an affidavit, Kohland admitted that he intentionally set the vehicle on fire, and later the structure. Kohland further allegedly acknowledged he was aware the complex was an occupied structure and the fire endangered the lives of the residents. Kohland reportedly told police he started the two fires because he was upset with the past renter of apartment 3, who also owns the Dodge Intrepid.
First degree arson is a Class B felony. Iowa code states the crime consists of causing a fire with intent to destroy/damage property and knowingly endangering property “in which the presence of one or more persons can be reasonably anticipated.” Kohland faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. His bond was set at $65,000. He remains in the Clinton County Jail pending a preliminary hearing set for July 23.
Brown commended the police and fire personnel for their work at the scene and in the arson investigation.
“Our guys did a great job at the scene and investigating the fire and the police did a great job of putting it together and getting him arrested,” said Brown. “We’re just lucky nobody got seriously hurt.”
The building is owned by Blake Thompson and is insured. Three residents displaced by the fire are being assisted by the Gateway Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.