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Somerset fire was arson, police say

A fire that destroyed a one-story ranch on Spring Street in Somerset July 16 is now being investigated as an arson, and the suspect might have been in the country illegally, Somerset Police Chief Doug Briggs said today (Monday).

The State Fire Marshal was called to investigate and Briggs said physical evidence at the scene showed the fire likely was intentionally started in a pile of clothes in the basement.

At this stage of the investigation, the chief said he could not release details on how the fire was started, but he did offer information on motive.

"It seems to be some sort of domestic relationship involving a break-up," Briggs said.

Police suspect a man started the fire in clothes owned by a women who had moved out of the house, he said.

Local authorities worked with the U.S. Border Patrol on the case and discovered that Social Security and immigration cards and a Mexican driver's license found in the house were fake, Briggs said.

Police have a description and license plate of a van driven by the woman who moved out of the rented home, Briggs said.

They say she is Delia Arellanes Payan, 30, a female hispanic who is 5 feet, 4 inches tall with brown hair and eyes. She may be driving a green 1994 Plymouth Voyager van with Minnesota license plates RKK-260.

Considering the fake identification, Briggs said the Border Patrol has said the suspect likely is long gone. The one hope police have, he said, is locating the woman. "We do have the one solid lead," he said.

Briggs reported that the insurance inspector ruled the home a complete loss. Two people rented the house but in fact five to seven people were living there, Briggs said.

Information: 715-247-3319 or 715-247-6131.