Crime

Madison house fire was arson intended to kill resident, police say; man charged

House fire in Madison

Firefighters were called to a residential fire Thursday morning in Madison.
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Firefighters were called to a residential fire Thursday morning in Madison.

Police believe a fire that damaged a house in Madison on Thursday was arson intended to kill the resident, and a man has been charged.

Dennis Latham, 45, of Madison, has been charged with residential arson and may face additional charges in the future, according to Det. Michael Renth.

The fire was reported early Thursday at 1706 Market St. in Madison. The resident was not at home at the time, police said, and she was found safe at another location. The fire’s origins were considered suspicious, and the Illinois State Fire Marshal was called in for an investigation.

Renth would not say how the fire was started, as it is considered evidence in the investigation, he said.

“(Latham) knew the victim and believed they were home at the time when he started the fire,” Renth said. He described Latham as a “career criminal” with gang affiliations and numerous convictions.

Latham was being held at the Madison County Jail as of Friday evening in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald

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