Local News

Arrest Made in UNC Dorm Fire

Posted November 21, 1999

— Since last Thursday, Morrison dormitory on the UNC campus has experienced a series of suspicious fires. Monday, an arrest was made.

UNC police say 19-year-old Daniel Sarrell, of Arden, has been charged with one count of first degree arson. Sarrell is a junior majoring in political science and one of 900-plus residents of Morrison dorm.

He was initially jailed on a $10,000 secured bond; that has since been raised to a $250,000 bond. He is in Orange County jail.

Officers said Sarrell's charge involves the latest blaze, which occurred early Monday morning. They say they hope to be able to tie the other fires in as well.

Investigator Derek Poarch said several surveillance techniques were used, which reportedly helped lead police to Sarrell.

Early Monday morning, another fire had rousted students from bed. It was the fourth fire over five days, and had both students and officials worried.

In the latest blaze, alarms sounded about 4:20 a.m. Furniture was found to be on fire in the sixth floor lounge. Dense smoke filled the room. Chapel Hill Fire Chief Dan Jones put the preliminary estimate of damages to the lounge at about $5,000.

As in the previous blazes, no one was hurt, but student Andrew Cotter characterized the occurrences as "a little disturbing. You get kind of nervous."

Sarah Smith, another Morrison resident, said she was angry that it seemed there was an arsonist living among the students.

Two of the fires occurred last Thursday, and another on Friday.

The fires appeared to be similar in nature. No information has been released on a possible motive.

TheState Bureau of Investigationhad been brought in to help with the probe.

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