Fire Investigator Testifies in Arson Trial


A fire investigator who looked into the cause an origin of the fire that destroyed a Knox business a year ago says it started in two separate spots. Larry Cooper was hired by the insurance company for Starke County Recycling, also known as C&C Salvage. Owner James Campbell is on trial for arson.

Cooper testified yesterday in Starke Circuit Court that burn patterns indicate two spots inside the tire shop area of the business at U.S. 35 and Toto Road ignited. Cooper was one of several fire investigators who looked into the blaze. His initial walk-through assessment of the property was made on March 26, 2014, six days after the fire. Cooper returned and did a more in-depth analysis two days later. Campbell was arrested later that day and charged with arson.

Cooper stated under cross-examination he worked closely with investigators from the state fire marshal’s office. He added that’s not unusual for private and government investigators to be at the same site at the same time and is recognized as a standard by the National Fire Protection Association.

Cooper was the ninth witness called by the state. If convicted of arson as a Class A felony Campbell faces between 20 and 50 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. His trial resumes at 9 a.m. in Starke Circuit Court.