Tim Leeds Havre Daily News tleeds@havredailynews.
A Havre man has been arrested in connection with a string of fires in Highland Park in Havre, including a fire early Wednesday morning that started while residents of the home were sleeping inside. Shayne Harma, 23, was being held in the Hill County Detention Center this morning on three charges of arson. According to a press release issued Wednesday by the Havre Police Department, Harma recently moved to Havre from Cairo, Ill. Further information outside of the press release was not available from the Police Department by this morning. Havre Fire Chief Dave Sheppard said the Fire Department is continuing to investigate a fire on Boulevard Avenue that was reported by a Havre police officer on patrol at 2:05 a.m. Wednesday. While no one was injured, the residents of the home were sleeping inside, Sheppard said. “The fire last night was definitely an arson fire ,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “We believe (Harma) may be connected to more than three (fires).” The fire Wednesday morning was on the outside of the residence, starting in siding on a corner of the house, Sheppard said. The fire department was able to contain the fire before it spread to the interior of the house. “It could have been a lot worse if it hadn’t have been discovered when it was,” Sheppard said. “Obviously, at that time of the morning, the occupants were asleep.” He said this is the first fire Harma is believed to be connected with involving an occupied building. A fire on Aug. 30 on Washington Avenue, reported at 9:20 p.m., caused substantial damage to a garage and property inside, including a freezer, a passenger vehicle and motorcycle. The damage was listed as a complete loss. Sheppard said there were suspicious subsequent fires in that location. The Fire Department put out fires in the garage again on Aug. 31, Sept. 13 and Sept. 17. Firefighters responded to another fire in Highland Park early Monday, on 11th Street West. The firefighters, who Responded at 1:28 a.m., were able to salvage some of the contents of the burning garage, including a motorcycle, a passenger vehicle and some power tools, but there was significant structural damage to the building, Sheppard said Monday. In its press release, the Havre Police Department thanked community members for their help and support in the investigation. It also thanked officers Nick Ost and Derek Mahlum and the Havre Fire Department personnel for their work in the investigation. Sheppard said his department will continue their investigation of the cause of the fires, in conjunction with the police investigation. “We hope to have this wrapped up, as far as our end goes, in the next couple of days,” Sheppard said.