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Idaho Falls man arrested for arson

An Idaho Falls man faces felony arson charges after he allegedly set his house on fire late Sunday night.

Investigators say the source of the blaze may have been removed from the home, and that so far they’ve found no evidence that the fire was accidental.

The last of the smoke was being pumped out of 267 East 20th Street Monday morning, as investigators did their final survey of the scene.

It was a very different scene on Sunday night, as smoke billowed from the home as a concerned crowd gathered.

Police say Benjamin Baldwin, 36, who lives in the house, started the fire in the basement when nobody was home.

“It was neighbors — witnesses that also saw (Benjamin Baldwin) to be the last one to leave the house, after he left — or before the fire started,” said Joelyn Hansen, the public information officer for the Idaho Falls Police Department.

After investigating for a couple of hours, police caught up with Baldwin less than a block away on Emerson Street. They say Baldwin was trying to return to his home.

Investigators have deemed the house uninhabitable due to extensive smoke damage.

“We’re still under investigation of why he would start a fire,” said Hansen. “That will certainly be part of what the detectives ask and what they gather, as far as their evidence.”

Baldwin’s wife confirmed reports of a domestic disturbance in the home earlier in the evening, before the fire started. She said that she and her husband were fighting over getting a divorce, and that Baldwin was moving out of the house. Mrs. Baldwin said she was at a nearby park with her children when the fire started.

A next door neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, said that Baldwin set fire to his house about a year and a half ago. Police would not comment on that matter, but Hansen said she believes Baldwin was a suspect in a previous arson case.

This is Baldwin’s second arrest this year. He was arrested in January for public intoxication, disturbing the peace and resisting officers.

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