Man charged with arson in connection with New Year’s Eve house fire

File photo shows firefighters battling a blaze at a two-story home located at 1074 Mill Hollow Way, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 1, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News/Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — A man whose home caught fire New Year’s Eve has been charged with intentionally setting the blaze.

Clare Eugene Prisbrey booking photo, Cedar City, Utah, March 27, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff’s Office, Cedar City News/St. George News

Investigators said Clare Eugene Prisbrey, 52, deliberately started the fire at his home at 1074 Mill Hollow Way.

Firefighters were called to the scene about 10:20 p.m. on Dec. 31 and spent the next several hours extinguishing the fire.

The two-story, 2,782-square foot residence was considered a total loss, authorities said.

Read more: Cause into New Year’s Eve house fire under investigation

After determining they had probable cause to make an arrest, Cedar City Police took Prisbrey into custody Tuesday evening and booked him into the Iron County Jail on suspicion of aggravated arson, a first-degree felony.

Cedar City Police Lt. Jimmy Roden said from the onset, investigators noticed “suspicious things in the home that were not typical for just a normal house fire.”

Roden said he couldn’t speak to specific details regarding the evidence, but said local police and fire authorities were assisted by investigators from the Utah State Fire Marshal’s office in collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses over the past several weeks.

“Some of the evidence didn’t come to light until recently,” Roden added. “We have responsibility to be thorough to ensure that we’re making the correct decisions.

“I can’t speak to their investigation, but we really do lean heavily on their findings as far as point of origin, whether or not there was accelerators present and those kinds of things.”

An initial information was filed in Fifth Judicial District Court Wednesday by Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett. According to that document, Prisbrey currently resides in Enoch. He will be represented by Gary W. Pendelton, who filed notice as Prisbrey’s counsel with the court Friday.

Aggravated arson is punishable by up to 25 years to life in prison without parole.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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