Franklin restaurant fire ruled arson; reward offered for information

FRANKLIN, OH (FOX19) - The Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office has ruled that a fire at the PH Bistro in Franklin is arson.

The restaurant on South Main Street caught fire at around 7:30 a.m. Monday morning. The building is a complete loss.

The investigation is ongoing to determine who is responsible for setting the fire, but Angie Willoughby, friend of bistro owner Tim Smith, said she isn't shocked the fire is a result of arson.

"Knowing how many times he has been broken into and things like that, it doesn't shock me in that manner because probably in the last month he has had 22 break-ins," said Willoughby.

In fact, Franklin police said 284 complaints were reported at the bistro last year. That number accounts for more than 50 percent of the total complaints reported at all establishments in Franklin with a liquor permit.

Fifty-six complaints of violence were reported at the bistro in 2010, including 34 fights and 10 assaults. Also three drug abuse complaints were reported last year.

The state fire marshal is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the arson.

Please contact Detective Scott Brown at the Franklin Police Department at 937-746-2882 if you have any information.

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