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Porterdale man charged in arson

PORTERDALE -- A 32-year-old Porterdale man has been charged with arson in connection with a house fire on Aug. 6.

Newton County Fire Service Fire Marshal Tim Smith said Jonathan James Kuiper, of 3 Maple St., was arrested Tuesday in connection with a fire at 3 Beech St.

Smith said firefighters responded to the blaze at about 10:50 p.m. Aug. 6 to find about 25 percent of the house engulfed in flames. Smith said the house, which was vacant at the time and had no power connected to it, suffered about $35,000 in damages.

Smith said the fire was intentionally set on the interior. He said the house is located across the back alley from Kuiper's residence.

Smith said the arrest was made possible due to an anonymous tip received through the Georgia Arson Control tip line.

"We knew the night of the fire it was a set fire," Smith said, "but we didn't know exactly who it was until we got this tip off the tip line. Thanks to the people of Porterdale, we were able to get this individual behind bars."

Kuiper faces charges of arson in the first degree and criminal damage to property in the second degree.

Investigators have not yet been able to determine a motive in the incident.

"He won't give us one," Smith said of the suspect. "He keeps claiming his innocence during this whole time. We've got a couple of ideas, but we haven't really got one nailed down.

Smith praised the assistance of the Porterdale Police Department in helping make the arrest.

"We got very, very good help from the Porterdale Police Department," he said. "Without their help we wouldn't have been able to do what we've done here."

The arson tip line is 1-800-282-5804. Rewards of up to $10,000 are awarded based on tips that lead to convictions.