The Owego Police Department reported Monday that Michael Lumnah, age 40, of Endicott, N.Y., has been charged with felony arson charges in connection with the fires that destroyed and damaged five homes and one garage in the Village of Owego on Saturday.
Lumnah, who owns the property located at 42 Temple St. in Owego, one of the homes that was damaged, is charged with conspiring with others to set fire to one of the structures, according to police. Further arrests are anticipated.
Owego Fire Chief Tom Taft reported that the cause of the fire was still undetermined and the investigation being handled by Tioga County investigators.
An investigation revealed that the fire was set behind the home at 42 Temple St., spread into the 42 Temple St. home, and then ignited two other homes on Temple Street and two homes on Liberty Street, police report.
A garage behind the 70 Liberty St. home was also destroyed. Twenty residents were displaced because of the fires and are currently being provided with temporary shelter through the American Red Cross.
The statement by police noted that Lumnah was sent to the Tioga County Jail in lieu of $25,000 cash bail pending further court action.
Pets, aid for victims
A previous story about the fire reported that a mother cat who lost her kittens in the fire was also without a home.
After the information was posted on the Web and published in the Review, Taft returned to the scene of the fires and located one of the kittens, which was still alive, but burned from the fire.
The chief made the reuniting of the kitten and its mother possible, and a relative, who learned about the plight of the cat on the Web, took the mother cat as well as the kitten. She will be seeking medical attention for both as soon as possible.
Also, another reader who viewed the story was interested in helping fire victims. Following a rummage sale for Relay for Life at the Fish Haven Farm on Rt. 96 this weekend, the organizers decided to box and bag everything up and make it available for fire victims.
The items are located at Fish Haven Farm on Route 96 in Catatonk, and are free to fire victims. According to a woman who called, there are clothing and household items available. These items will be available outside the facility until Tuesday.