VANDALIA — An arson investigation by the State Fire Marshal has declared the fire in Vandalia Saturday that claimed one life as an arson.
The fire was started at 12:39 a.m. Saturday and consumed the lower level of the Central High Apartments in Vandalia with heavy smoke and high heat. Firefighters discovered the body of resident Jerry Varis, 63, of Vandalia in the building after the evacuation. Varis was declared dead at the scene by Fayette County Coroner Bruce Bowen and an autopsy revealed that Varis died as a result of the fire.
With the fire being ruled an arson, Vandalia Chief of Police Jeff Ray said the police department is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest.
"We are asking for the public's help in identifying the person responsible for setting the fire," he said. "We are offering a $2,500 cash reward for specific information leading to the arrest for the person or persons responsible for the fire."
The case is still under investigation by the Office of the State Fire Marshall, Vandalia Police Department and Fayette County Coroner's Office. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Fayette County Crime Watchers at 618-283-1986.