Westlake Police Arrest Resident For Arson
Investigators believe suspect started fire with lit cigarette.
Westlake police have arrested 34-year-old Mark Hudson on suspicion of aggravated arson in connection with the fire that broke out early Tuesday morning. The Westlake resident is now in Cuyahoga County Jail, awaiting charges from a grand jury.
Firefighters discovered the blaze at 1851 King James Pkwy while responding to a call about smoke in a first-floor hallway. Fire crews contained the flames in the single unit, and with help from Rocky River and Bay Village, extinguished them within minutes.
After conducting an investigation, safety officials said Hudson, boyfriend of the unit’s 55-year-old resident, left a lit cigarette in the pocket of one of her jackets. Police said Hudson was upset with his girlfriend because she did not come home Monday night.
“We had interviewed him and other witnesses and gathered evidence, and it pointed to this,” said Westlake Police Cpt. Guy Turner.
Safety officials evacuated 90 people from the building at about 4:40 a.m. Tuesday. Although carbon monoxide levels were very high throughout the building, no one was injured. However, the unit resident’s dog, Baby, died in the fire.
Fire officials allowed all residents back into their apartments after a short while, except for the 55-year-old woman, whom the American Red Cross assisted.
Hudson is on probation for burglary and assault for an incident in 2009 when he entered the same woman’s condo, pushed her down and dragged her around on the floor. If convicted of arson, he will face 3-10 years in jail.