Bragging leads to tips, police arrest Manchester Mill arsonist - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Bragging leads to tips, police arrest Manchester Mill arsonist

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Jason Edward Teufel (Source: Meriwether Sheriffs Office) Jason Edward Teufel (Source: Meriwether Sheriffs Office)
(Source: Georgia Department of Insurance) (Source: Georgia Department of Insurance)
MANCHESTER, GA (WTVM) -

News Leader 9 has learned an arrest has been made in connection to the Manchester Mill fire that happened on Sunday morning.

The community was stunned to hear that one of their historic landmarks was not only burned to the ground- the fire was set intentionally.  The Mill was in the process of being demolished for materials at the time and now the salvage company has lost about $1 million worth of lumber.

Police said they don't know whether the man they arrested intended to burn the building down, but his actions were reckless and put the lives of firefighters in danger. 

Jason Edward Teufel of Waverly Hall, told police his girlfriend kicked him out of the house, so he spent Saturday night at the abandoned Mill. 

While inside, Teufel said he tried to stay warm by setting fire to scrap wood. But police say he was intoxicated and fell asleep, leaving the fire unattended.  That fire quickly spread to the rest of the building, which was more than one hundred years old and mostly made of wood. 

Teufel was able to escape unharmed.

The Mill turned into a blazing inferno that was seen for miles.  Some residents of Manchester assumed the fire was caused by demolition work gone wrong.

"I was really surprised, I knew that there had been some renovations and they were tearing part of it down. I was real surprised when I heard that it burned because I had recently been to the art studio in the front of it," said Dan Rexrode of Woodbury.

The Mill's façade is occupied by a business that received smoke and water damage, but firefighters were able to save it from destruction.

"The fire department did an outstanding job of getting there very quickly and saving what they could save," said Manchester police investigator Kenneth Knox, "At some points that fire was from one end of the building to the other and going forty to fifty feet above the smoke stacks. It was hard to determine where it started, but there were a lot of onlookers who were there pretty quick and we managed to get some pictures from them."

After the fire, police said Teufel bragged to other people in town that he was the one who started it, and eventually, some of those people sent tips to police.  Investigators compared Teufel's statements about the fire with evidence they obtained from the pictures taken by community residents at the scene, and eventually, they charged Teufel with arson and trespassing.

"There's no doubt in my mind that he is our man and he has confessed," said Knox.

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