Neighbors: Alleged arsonist set fire to his childhood home

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VIENNA – The Maries County Sheriffs Department has arrested Gary Martin Travers Jr., of Jefferson City. The Maries County Prosecutor said Travers was responsible for setting fire to a house on Highway 28 in Vienna last August. The house exploded and injured 6 volunteer firefighters at the Vienna Fire Protection District.

Neighbors in the area told KOMU the house belonged to Travers' parents but it had been abandoned.

A Maries County Sheriff's Office lieutenant told KOMU there's reason to believe the fire was set to claim insurance money.

Assistant Chief Mark Buschmann, Chase Lenning, TJ Jeremy, Mark Honse and Mason Smith were all injured in the blaze.

Fire chief Michael Smith said five of the injured firefighters have since returned to work. One of them is expected to return this week.

“It’s a big relief for us,” Smith said. “It’s a huge burden off our shoulders that we can put this to rest. “

According to a Facebook post from the Office of Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman, prosecutor Tony Skouby has charged Travers with six counts of Assault 2nd Degree - special victim, which is a class B Felony and one count of Arson 2nd Degree - resulting in a serious injury, also a class B felony.

These felonies carry a possible sentence of 5 to 15 years each for a possible maximum sentence of 95 years.

The prosecutor said the investigation is ongoing and officials may make more arrests soon. According to the Facebook post, the investigation is ongoing and more arrests may be possible.

 

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