Police: Man sets motorcycle, apartment on fire, attacks fire chief

News-DemocratMarch 7, 2014 

A St. Clair County man was charged with one count of residential arson and one count of aggravated battery to a firefighter after he allegedly first set a motorcycle and then later an apartment building on fire.

A fire call went out midday Thursday that a motorcycle was on fire in front of an apartment building in St. Libory and a firefighter arrived, armed with a fire extinguisher, to put out the flames.

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly alleged that when Joseph Ital, 51, saw the firefighter trying to douse the fire, he tried to spray ether on the motorcycle to rekindle it. Then he tried to spray the firefighter, St. Libory Fire Chief Casey Trentman, with the accelerant.

Trentman used his fire extinguisher to fight off Ital and the suspect ran inside the apartment building and allegedly started a fire there before trying to escape through a window at the back of the residence.

Ital, whose address was listed in Marissa, has a post office box address in St. Libory, according to public records. He was being held Friday in the St. Clair County Jail on $100,000 bail.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or call 239-2626.

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