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Two vacant buildings on Jefferson Street were gutted Oct. 13 by a blaze now determined to be intentional.
October 23, 2012
DALLAS -- Police have arrested two men in connection with a fire that destroyed two vacant commercial buildings in Dallas.
A fire erupted in two vacant warehouse buildings at 1378 SE Jefferson St. early on Oct. 13. The buildings were the former home of Oregon Nut Growers and a prune processing facility.
Dallas residents Benjamin D. Reed, 18, and Dallas W. Hudnall, 20, were arrested Oct. 13. Both face seven charges: first-degree arson, two counts of second-degree arson, second-degree burglary, first-degree criminal mischief, reckless burning and reckless endangering. All charges except the last two are felonies.
Firefighters were called to the blaze at about 3:30 a.m. and, a short time later, a Dallas police officer spotted three young men walking in the area. The group included Reed and Hudnall.
The officer stopped them to talk and during the course of the conversation noticed that Hudnall had burnt hairs on his hand and arm. His eyelashes were also singed.
Dallas W. Hudnall
Hudnall claimed they had been watching the fire and an ember had dropped on his hand.
Officers asked the pair to go to the police station for an interview. They both agreed. The third subject was allowed to go home.
According to probable cause affidavits filed with the court, during the interviews both Reed and Hudnall admitted to going into the warehouse and setting items on fire, such as papers and flammable liquids, over the last six weeks.
Benjamin D. Reed
Reed said he found a key to the warehouse while looking around outside and was using it to access the building since early September.
Reed told police he had been mixing napalm and making molotov cocktails in the building during that time.
"Reed also admitted that he and Dallas Hudnall had ignited a molotov cocktail in the middle of last week," the Oct. 13 affidavit read. "Reed told me Dallas lit the fuse and he (Reed) threw it. He said it caused a fire about 15 feet long and 4 to 5 feet in width. He said they watched it burn until it went out."
Reed said he had been researching how to make napalm online and was storing flammable materials in the warehouse. He had been mixing gas, paint thinner and grout into a "napalm-like jelly" and had been using it to light fires.
A Dallas police press release stated Reed eventually admitted to his involvement in the fire and Hudnall was implicated, as well. DPD is continuing the investigation.
Hudnall and Reed appeared in Polk County Circuit Court Thursday for a brief hearing. Both are scheduled for preliminary hearings Thursday.
They remain at the Polk County Jail, Reed on $187,500 bail and Hudnall on $185,000 bail.