Six-year-old rescued from blaze; officials searching for arson suspect

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 21, 2014 

The Columbus Fire and Emergency Medical Services has identified a suspect in a Friday fire in which firefighters rescued a 6-year-old girl at 2062 Mason St., officials said.

Fire investigators and the Columbus Police Department are looking for Eric Lamar Person, 25, as an arson suspect in the fire that gutted the home about 10:10 p.m.

When Columbus firefighters arrived to battle the Mason Street blaze, occupants told rescue workers that the house had been vacated, officials said. But when firefighters checked, they found one of the 11 residents still inside — a 6-year-old girl, hiding under the covers in a bedroom.

Fire Marshal Ricky Shores said Tuesday that firefighters found the house burning on both sides from a fire that investigators later determined ignited in the middle of the house.

After checking in with the 10 residents who escaped the flaming home, investigators proceeded to make a sweep through the residence. Shores said that standard procedure can be crucial during a house fire, when the scene is often chaotic.

"The units did exactly what they were trained to do," Shores said. "There's no doubt that if they had not found the little girl, she would have perished."

Shores also said the firefighter's quick response time was able to prevent the flames from spreading to nearby structures.

Five of the 11 residents at the Mason Street home were children, he said. There were no injuries.

Shores said the fire remains under investigation. An initial estimate of damages was not available.

Person is identified as black with brown hair, about 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds . Anyone with information on the location of the suspect should call 706-653-3400.

Ben Wright contributed to this story.

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