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By Carol Stiffler

A Newberry man is in custody following an intentional blaze that destroyed a Lakefield home on the evening of Wednesday, June 23. Parents Duane and Jennifer Jordan and five children lived in the home, which stood on County Road 438.

A report from the Luce County Sheriff Department indicated no one was home when it is alleged that Carl Verrett Jr. set fire to the home and drove off in a Chevy Monte Carlo that had been parked in its driveway. Verrett is someone they’ve known for a while.

The fire was discovered when a family friend arrived to drop off two children who live at the home, with the homeowners arriving almost simultaneously. The Columbus Township Fire Department was first to the scene, and called in the Newberry Fire Department for assistance.

The fire fully destroyed the two-bedroom home and claimed the lives of four pets who were sheltered inside. The house was not insured.

The Red Cross has set up the family with emergency housing, and community members came forward to share clothing.

A gofundme account has been set up by a family friend. The Jordans are also hoping for donations of building supplies to help rebuild the home, which originally belonged to Duane’s grandmother.

The Luce County Sheriff Department is still investigating the incident. Verrett has been arraigned in 92nd District Court and charged with one count of arson and one count of vehicle theft.