Bond set for 80-year-old charged in Arlington Heights apartment complex fire

The 80-year-old man who authorities say started a Jan. 7 fire that damaged several units in an Arlington Heights apartment complex was ordered held on $75,000 bail Tuesday.

Charged with aggravated arson, Paul C. Strusiner did not appear in court for the hearing. Police say he is being treated at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights for reasons unrelated to the fire.

Prosecutors say the fire broke out at 12:22 a.m. Friday. Police officers and firefighters arrived to find flames coming from Strusiner's first-floor unit, which had a car parked in front of it. Later, officers noticed the same car circling the parking lot, said Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Piotr Karpierz.

A witness flagged down officers and pointed to the car, which the defendant was driving, Karpierz said.

Strusiner told a police sergeant that he started the fire in his apartment, said Karpierz, adding Strusiner's statements were made "among other nonsensical ramblings."

According to Karpierz, Strusiner's name is the only one on the lease, but police said he had a live-in girlfriend who moved out two days before the fire, leaving the only set of keys with Strusiner.

Fire department investigators determined the fire originated in the living room and the source was "ordinary combustibles which generated an open flame," said Karpierz, adding investigators found no evidence accelerants were used.

"The fire marshal also determined the stove was used to ignite something like a paper towel, which then was placed on the table catching it on fire," Karpierz said.

According to the fire marshal, the sliding glass door was open, allowing air to fuel the flames.

Strusiner next appears in court on Jan. 21.

Authorities: 80-year-old man intentionally set Arlington Heights apartment fire

80-year-old man charged with arson in multiunit Arlington Heights apartment fire

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