Mad River Twp. fire battled during high winds ruled arson, arrest made

High winds ripped through the region over the weekend making it difficult for crews to fight a house fire in Mad River Twp. that has been ruled an arson.

A Fairborn man was arrested and is facing arson and other related charges connected to the fire in the 1500 block of Uplands Drive.

Clark County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Christopher Perdue, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office. Perdue was charged with arson, two counts of burglary, disrupting public services, felony possession of criminal tools, criminal damaging, and criminal trespass, according to the release.

Mad River Township Fire Department crews arrived to the scene of a 90 percent engulfed house fire around 10:40 p.m. Saturday in the 1500 block of Uplands Drive, Mad River Township Fire Chief Tim Wendling said.

“Winds were kicking up to around 40-49 mph,” Wendling said. “It played a very big part in us trying to extinguish the fire.”

The winds made containing and dousing the fire more difficult - the wind scattered water as fire crews were trying to spray the fire.

Fire crews protected the surrounding properties, but the fire did damage the siding of one adjacent property, Wendling said.

Mutual aid from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Bethel Twp., Springfield Twp. and Houston fire departments helped to finally put the fire out around 4 a.m. Sunday.

The resident of the house was not home at the time the fire was reported, but arrived as fire crews were working to contain the fire, Wendling said.

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As fire crews contained the fire, the sheriff’s office began receiving reports of a suspicious person in the area.

“A resident on Dayton-Springfield Road reported that she was observing the fire from her residence, and that she heard a noise from inside her home,” the news release said. “Upon investigating, she located a male who claimed he was from the fire department, and that he had entered her residence to check on her welfare.”

The male was not wearing a uniform or identification and broke an upstairs window, the release said.

Additionally, another resident saw a man “tampering with the incoming electric service lines.”

The man was identified as Perdue, according to the release.

The fire remains under investigation by the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, and the Mad River Township Fire Department, according to the news release from the Sheriff’s Office.

Overall, wind damage in Clark and Champaign counties was limited, according to emergency management agencies.

“We did not have any damage reported to the Clark County Emergency Management Agency,” Clark County Public Information Officer Michael Cooper said. “It is possible there could have been some down trees, things like that.”

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George Rogers Clark Park had a delayed opening Sunday morning because trees were down across the park driveway, but the damage was not unusual, Clark County Park District Executive Director Carol Kennard said.

Champaign County Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Freeman said the winds seemed to bother the “far west side” of Champaign County like Christiansburg, St. Paris, and Rosewood.

“I was in contact with the fire chiefs and the wind pretty much died out before it got over here,” Freeman said. “There were trees and wires down in roadways, but nothing unusual for any type of storm around here.”

Freeman said that county departments were out as soon as they heard the storm was coming.

Thousands of residents in the region were without power and winds gusted up to 83 mph in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.

Two EF0 tornadoes touched down in Miami County, one in Troy and the second in Fletcher.

The Troy tornado lasted two minutes and crossed the center of the city and the Great Miami River before lifting on the northeast edge of the town.

Three buildings in downtown Troy sustained the most damage and were taped off - so debris would not fall on pedestrians.

In Fletcher, damage consisted of broken and snapped off trees, roof damage to barns and outbuildings, and snapped electrical poles, according to the National Weather Service.

The tornado was on the ground for 6.3 miles and ended near the intersection of Burr Oak-New Hope Road and Snyder Road.

Other counties like Greene and Montgomery reported down trees and power lines.

Weather for this week is expected to be warmer than usual with showers returning on Wednesday, according to Storm Center 7.

The Springfield News-Sun is committed to covering news in Clark and Champaign counties and the impact on local communities.

Facts & Figures: 

49 mph - Clark County’s highest wind gust reported at 10:29 p.m. at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport

2 - Number of tornadoes that touched down in the region

83 mph - Wind gust reported at 10:18 p.m. Saturday at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

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