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1 Man Arrested In Cudahy Meatpacking Plant Fire

Fri, 07/17/2009 - 4:49am

CUDAHY, Wis. (AP) — Police have arrested a 25-year-old man and located another male who they believe may have launched a military illumination flare that caused a massive fire at a southeastern Wisconsin meatpacking plant.

Police arrested the 25-year-old in Milwaukee County on Wednesday evening. The other man lives in another state and has been located there, Milwaukee County's chief deputy district attorney, Kent Lovern, said at Thursday news conference.

"We do not believe that the fire was intentionally set by the suspects, but we do believe that these actions were reckless and that the safety of many people was put at severe risk," Cudahy Police Chief Thomas Poellot said.

The men were lighting off large fireworks from a nearby residence July 5, Poellot said.

A flare hit and ignited the roof of the Patrick Cudahy Inc. plant, the company for which the city was named, that night. The blaze lasted for days, gutted four buildings and caused an estimated $50 million or more in damages.

It also prompted a temporary evacuation of thousands of area residents.

State Fire Marshal Tina Virgil said she expected others who may be involved to be identified "in the coming days." She didn't know the extent of their involvement.

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