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Cat dies in RV park fire; trailer renter charged with arson

March 23rd, 2012 Posted in Opinion

Story & Photos by Mary Stocking

LOGAN—A 40-year-old Logan man has been arrested and charged in connection with a fire Tuesday morning that destroyed a trailer in a local RV Park.

The fire was reported Tuesday at approximately 10:30 a.m. at Riverside RV Park, at 447 W. 1700 South, Logan police say.

Officers and firefighters arrived to find the fifth-wheel ablaze, with the renter, Christian Fitting, standing in front watching, police said.

Fitting told responders there was no one in the trailer except his grey and white striped cat, according to police. “The fire was so involved and hot that officers were unable to safely make entry to rescue the cat,” the LPD said.

Fitting was taken to Logan Regional Hospital as a precaution, and was released Tuesday afternoon.

After an investigation, Logan police arrested Fitting, who has been charged with 1st degree felony aggravated arson, and reckless endangerment, animal cruelty and public intoxication, a misdemeanors. He has been booked into the Cache County Jail.

RV park owner Rex Peterson said he has had conflicts with Fitting over recent weeks, and had recently evicted him. The police confirmed that, “there has been an ongoing problem between Fitting and the landlord at the RV park.”

Peterson said most of the RVs at his park are owned by residents, who rent the spaces. The trailer that burned is owned by Peterson, who says he occasionally rents it on a short-term basis.

“Because of problems I’ve had with [Fitting], I’d proceeded to ask him to leave, and then I was forced to use an eviction notice because of the amount of trash in the trailer, smoking in the trailer, and pets in the trailer, which is prohibited,” Peterson said Tuesday.

“It’s been a temporary thing that he’s been allowed to rent, and because of that I have the right to ask him to leave,” Peterson said. “He had no long-term commitment to stay, and I have no long-term commitment to provide housing for him.”

Peterson said he evicted Fitting on Saturday, but the renter responded angrily. “He said, “I’m gonna stay here for another two months, and there’s not a single thing you can do about it. And I’ll sue the hell out of you . . . if you even try to,’” the RV park owner said.

On the night before the fire, Peterson said he found that Fitting was using the stovetop burners to heat the trailer, so he turned off the propane for safety reasons. “If there had been propane lines into that place that night, it could have exploded, and not just burned,” he said.

A neighbor said he was taking the trash out Tuesday morning when he saw “billowing smoke” from Fitting’s trailer, but there was nothing to be done.

Another RV park resident said, “All the residents know that this guy has just been a pain constantly, and as a consequence everyone in the park has just been able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that at least now they know it’s over with.”

Peterson said running the RV park has been a good experience, over all. “Most all the tenants and people that have been here come and stay overnight, and in the summer they have been excellent, very good people, very few problems,” he said. “But nothing to this extreme in my 28 years as manager.

He shook his head. “Not even my property insurance will cover will an RV that is rented out to someone else,” he said. “This is a case where the property owner as the victim has fewer rights than the perpetrator.”

But, like other park residents, Peterson is glad the episode is over. “Only Fitting’s cat was killed,” he said. “Other people came close because the fire was close to their trailers, but the Logan City Fire Department was good enough to be here and cool down the trailers nearby so that there was no damage to anybody else.”



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