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SALEM TOWNSHIP Reward to be offered in covered-bridge fire



Published: Sat, March 8, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Authorities have no suspect in the fire that damaged the covered bridge.

SALEM -- Authorities hope a reward and publicity will help find the person who set fire to a covered bridge in Salem Township.

Salem Township Police Chief Daniel K. Valentine said at least a $5,000 reward will be offered for the arrest and conviction of the arsonist.

The Teegarden Centennial Covered Bridge is a 66-foot span along Eagleton Road.

A 3-by-3-foot section of the span's plank wall and a beam were burned early Feb. 23.

The reward comes from the Ohio Blue Ribbon Arson Committee, a coalition of insurance companies that offers rewards in arson cases, Valentine said.

The chief said he is trying to confirm reports that other rewards may be offered in the case.

Announcement today

The reward was to be formally announced at the historical covered bridge today.

Valentine said he has no suspect. He has forwarded evidence to the state fire marshal's office for testing.

The bridge restoration was completed earlier this year at a cost of $295,000. The restoration came after years of decay and vandalism.

The township trustees and the police department also will give a man a certificate of appreciation for dousing the flames. Jim Brown, an Eagleton Road resident, discovered the blaze and put it out with water from his house.

Closing requested

At Valentine's request, Tom Hutson, a project coordinator for the Columbiana County Engineer's office, has asked the county commissioners to close the bridge from dusk to dawn.

Valentine said that without the closing, he would have no legal reason to investigate anyone on the bridge at night, the time vandalism is more likely to occur. That person, said the chief, may easily have a pop bottle in his pocket filled with gasoline.

Since 1988, three covered bridges in the county have been destroyed by arson.




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