MASON CITY – The Mason City Fire Department responded to a call of a house fire early Sunday morning.
At 3:29 a.m., firefighters were at 30 15th Street NE. The house was totally engulfed in flames.
Mason City police said Sunday in a press release that “as officers responded, they were advised that the fire had been intentionally started by a man that lived at the address.”
It is believed that at least two people resided at that address; a woman and her boyfriend. Both were out of the house. Officers took Bachig Cornelious, age 23, into custody in connection with the fire. Cornelious was booked into the county jail and charged with arson in the second degree, a class C felony. He was also charged with domestic assault, a serious misdemeanor; possession of a controlled substance, a serious misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a simple misdemeanor.
“That’s my nieces house,” a witness at the scene told NIT reporter Jody Spear. “I just got home from the hospital and saw the house on fire. I live across the street. Then I saw her boyfriend run into the street saying, ‘She deserved it, she deserved it.’ The couple apparently were arguing, so he started the house on fire,” said the victim’s aunt in disbelief.
One of the concerns the firefighters had was that the house fire was close to Mason City Lumber, located just west of the fire, on North Federal Avenue. It didn’t look like any harm was done to that building.
“He wasn’t drunk, he did this sober,” said a neighbor, who was visiting the residence at the time of the incident. “I poured him one drink. They started arguing. It was just a verbal fight. To avoid anymore arguing, she went next door to get away from him for a while.”
Firefighters were on the roof of the house. The holes that were cut released more smoke and flames. They proceeded to put the fire out, then went inside to investigate.
Fire Chief Bob Platts was at the scene as well.
“Why would someone do that?!,” exclaimed the witness, again. “He felt neglected, so he starts a fire? Why would he do that?” It was explained that he felt neglected because she wouldn’t talk to him. She didn’t want to argue anymore.”
It was also said that a dog perished in the blaze.
The following information was given to NIT later Sunday morning: A person familiar with the female victim “was just up talking to the girl and her mom. The guy did throw the dog in the fire and the dog is dead. The girl has it in the back of her van.”
Jody Spear and Kelley Meyer contributed to this story and took the photos and video.
SUBJECT IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY