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Sussex Countian
  • Townsend-area man charged with arson twice in five weeks

  • A 39-year-old Townsend-area man is facing a new arson charge after allegedly setting fire to a Townsend-area home Wednesday – five weeks after he was charged with setting fire to a nearby wood mill.
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  • A 39-year-old Townsend-area man is facing a new arson charge after allegedly setting fire to a Townsend-area home Wednesday – five weeks after he was charged with setting fire to a nearby wood mill.
    Franklin J. Bartsch Jr. was most recently arrested early Wednesday morning in the 100 block of McKay's Corner Road, where he allegedly started a fire inside his occupied home, according to fire officials.
    A woman who was able to escape the minor blaze unharmed reported the fire shortly before 1 a.m.
    About 50 firefighters from the Clayton Fire Company and Townsend Fire Company responded to the scene.
    "It was pretty much out by the time we arrived," Clayton Fire Chief Robbie Johnson said. "It was contained to the front room where there was a lot of smoke damage to a coffee table and the curtains."
    Damage from the fire is estimated at $1,500.
    Bartsch is charged with first-degree arson and first-degree reckless endangerment in connection with the blaze. He is being held at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna on a $25,000 secured bond.
    Bartsch was already facing a second-degree arson charge in connection with a fire he allegedly started Aug. 8 at a wood mill also in the 100 block of McKay's Corner Road.
    That fire reportedly caused about $2,000 in damage.
    Following his arrest in that case on Aug. 8, Bartsch was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond, fire officials said.
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