A city fire official on Friday declined to discuss whether the city's arson task force will take a new look at a fatal 2002 fire in the heart of downtown's arson zone.

The fire at 563 Rutledge Ave. on March 30, 2002, killed 78-year-old Marsh Bennett. City fire investigators originally classified the fire as accidental without pinpointing its cause.

Since then, as many as 83 suspicious fires have broken out in the densely packed streets north and south of the Crosstown, a recent Post and Courier report found. An arsonist targeted 563 Rutledge two times after the 2002 fire that killed Bennett, the newspaper found.

The city's arson task force met Thursday to discuss the case, said Mark Ruppel, the fire department's public information officer. The task force will contact members of the family about their findings, he said.

He declined to discuss the matter further and requested any questions be asked through a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

Read more in tomorrow's editions of The Post and Courier.