Man accused of setting 3-alarm fire in Columbus apartment building

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Columbus Fire investigators have arrested a man who they say set the fire that engulfed an empty apartment complex over the weekend.

The fire was first reported around 3 a.m. Sunday at the building on South Washington Avenue near Topiary Park in Columbus.

Columbus Fire Chief Martin says Derrick D. Lee, 30, was arrested on F-2 aggravated arson charges.

Lee was arraigned Thursday in Columbus and given a $1 million bond, according to Franklin County Municipal Court records.

According to arson investigators, the damages are estimated to be $25 million. They do not believe the incident is related to protests that happened over the weekend.

According to court documents, investigators obtained surveillance video of a man, later identified as Lee, walking into the structure 30 minutes before the fire was discovered. Investigators said Lee was identified by security as having been in the building on previous occasions, most recently on May 24.

Lee was interviewed by investigators on June 1, after they say he returned to watch the firefighting efforts. He was wearing the same clothing seen in the security video.

The Columbus fire and explosive investigation unit says it is still actively investigating all other fires that occurred over the last week.  

Officials ask anyone with information to email

Derrick D. Lee

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