MONROE TWP., Preble County — The Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office ruled a blaze that damaged the New Budget Inn motel early Tuesday morning was arson, according to officials.
A check of jail records Wednesday morning found Eric L. Kaye, 55, was arrested by deputies at the fire scene, shortly after the blaze was contained. Kaye was booked into the Preble County Jail on one charge of misconduct at an emergency, records show.
Investigators said Wednesday Kaye’s arrest was not connected to the arson investigation and no other arrests have been made.
Firefighters were dispatched around midnight Tuesday to the motel at 6161 U.S. 127, just south of Interstate 70. A medic unit on a call to a nearby travel center spotted the fire and called for a response to the motel, according to West Manchester Fire Chief Dale Baker.
Initial reports indicated the fire might have been chemical, caused by people attempting to make drugs, according to emergency scanner traffic. However, Baker said those reports are still not confirmed and the cause of the fire will be investigated by the Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office.
“(The cause), It’s really hard to tell; there is so much fire damage in the room of origin,” Baker said.
“There’s a few things that lead this to be suspicious, but I’m not a liberty to say too much about that yet.”
Tracy Thompson, who lives in a neighboring unit, said she woke up after hearing a woman screaming outside and saw black smoke all around her.
“The woman kept screaming ‘get out, get out.’ So I got my granddaughter up and got out as quick as we could, ” Thompson said.
“About the time we got halfway into the yard, the window just blew out (of the unit). It was like a bomb.”
All occupants were able to safely evacuate and no injuries were reported, Baker said.