Police suspect homemade bombs used in apartment fire

Police found two homemade bombs inside the apartment of the man suspected of setting fire to Building I at Germantown Apartments on Feb. 27.

A search warrant filed in Faulkner County Circuit Court details the early morning Feb. 27 fire at Germantown Apartment Complex at 955 S. German Lane was likely caused by the homemade bombs.

In the search warrant affidavit, one Conway Police Department detective stated two Molotov cocktails were found in 50-year-old David Wayne Hartsell’s apartment.

A Molotav Cocktail is a homemade bomb made in a glass bottle and filled with a flammable liquid, usually alcohol or gasoline.

“After the fire was extinguished the fire department located what appeared to be two ‘Molotav Cocktails’ with the wicks still attached in apartment I2,” the affidavit reads.

One bomb was found on the kitchen counter and the other under a sink.

“One cocktail was visible from outside the apartment and appeared to be a large bottle with the wick still attached sitting upon the kitchen counter of I2,” according to the affidavit. “The other cocktail reported was a gasoline can under the sink also with a wick coming out of it.”

Conway Police Department spokesman LaTresha Woodruff said the apartment building was “fully engulfed” when the Conway fire and police departments responded to the fire.

Fire Chief Mike Winter said the first 911 call came in at 4:21 a.m.

The fire department was on the scene by 4:26 a.m.

Winter said the fire was under control within 30 minutes “and all units were back in service by 7 a.m.”

Certified fire investigators with the National Response Team (NRT) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are considering witness statements, fire patterns, electrical arc mapping as well as fire dynamics, according to the affidavit.

Two people were injured and a dog died in the blaze. Seventeen residents were displaced after the fire. Authorities estimate the fire caused $1 million in damage.

Hartsell, who was arrested on scene, is currently being held in the county jail on a $500,000 bond. He is charged with felony arson and two counts of first-degree battery.

It was unclear at press time Monday whether charges will be filed in the 20th Judicial District or federally.

2 injured, pet killed in blaze at Conway apartment complex
Germantown Apartment Complex Blaze 02/27/17

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