MADISON TWP., Ohio (FOX19) - Detectives with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a residential trailer fire that killed a 59-year-old man overnight - and whether it was sparked by a cigar laid on a roll of toilet paper.
Deputies responded to the 6500 block of Germantown Road in Madison Township about 8 p.m. Sunday, a sheriff’s report shows.
When they arrived, they said they found the trailer fully engulfed in flames.
They made contact with a man identified in the report as the “suspect,” James Johnson, 56, who told them he was smoking a cigar and laid it down on a roll of toilet paper, causing a fire.
A box of ammunition caught fire, sending projectiles off the porch. After this a welder had caught fire, causing the attached gas tank to explode, fueling the fire, according to the report.
“After approximately five to seven minutes, Mr. Johnson advised his friend Steve was asleep in the front bedroom. Deputy Banks and myself attempted to get to the bedroom but due to the intensity of the fire in front of the trailer, we were unable to make entry. Madison Fire Department arrived on scene and extinguished the fire."
Steve Strain, 59, was found dead on the floor, the sheriff’s report states. He suffered severe burns and died from smoke inhalation, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office.
Johnson was taken to the Middletown Police Department to be interviewed by detectives.
He has not been arrested, said sheriff’s spokeswoman, Sgt. Kim Peters.
The incident remains under investigation.
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