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 firefighters arrived, said Sgt. Andrew Richmond, North Vernon Police Department spokesman. Officers checked five other attached apartments to make sure everyone had evacuated.

The fire scene became a criminal investigation when witnesses told officers the fire was set intentionally, Richmond 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, Richmond said.

Officers could not find White at the apartment fire.

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Friday morning, officers recovered a gas can from a yard one street north from the fire, Richmond 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 400E and located White walking along the road near an abandoned trailer, Richmond said.

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

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

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