North Vernon man arrested after apartment fire

NORTH VERNON — North Vernon police arrested a local resident on a preliminary charge of arson and a warrant after an apartment fire.

Police and firefighters were sent to 23 W. Poplar St. at 11:11 p.m. Thursday about an apartment fire.  Sgt. Keith Messer arrived first and began fighting the fire with a fire extinguisher until North Vernon fire fighters arrived on scene. Once the North Vernon fire department arrived officers made sure the other apartments were evacuated. This involved checking about five other attached apartments in the structure.

The fire scene turned into a criminal investigation when witnesses told officers the fire was set intentionally, police said. Officers were told that Jonathon N. White, 27, of North Vernon, had allegedly been seen dousing the apartment with gasoline and lighting it just before the fire was reported, police said.

Officers could not find White at the apartment fire.

An apartment in North Vernon was damaged by a fire Thursday. Photo provided

Friday morning, officers recovered a gas can from a yard one street north from the fire, police said. The homeowner stated the gas can wasn’t his and he hadn’t seen it before.

At 9 a.m. Friday,  Lt. Randall Marshall and Detective Ivory Sandefur received information on White’s location. The officers went to the 1000 block north of County Road 400 E and located White walking along the road near an abandoned trailer, police said.

White was arrested on a preliminary charge of felony arson and a warrant issued for probation violation, police said.

He is being held in the Jennings County Jail in lieu of $5,125 cash bond, jail officials said.

For more on this story, see Sunday’s Republic.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.