New Haven man charged with arson

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By Erin L. McCoy

A man allegedly doused a New Haven house in gasoline and threatened to set it on fire during a domestic dispute Tuesday night.

Jonathan Jeffires, 24, reportedly fled when New Haven Police Officer K.C. Holbert arrived at 390 N. First St. around 7:34 p.m., running in the direction of Second Street.

“He was standing in the middle of the street when I got there and had a knife in his hand. When I got there he dropped the knife and took off,” Holbert said. “I had a good visual on him the whole time and was catching up to him.”

About 100 yards from the house, Holbert sprained his ankle and had to abandon the pursuit.

But only a short time later, Nelson County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Clark allegedly spotted Jeffires returning to the house.

“Mike said he was sitting up on Second Street and then [Jeffires] walked down through the yard, and as he was approaching the residence ... he got a visual on Jeffires trying to open a window on the house to gain entry,” Holbert said. “Mike Clark ended up in another foot pursuit with him and chased him down.”

By 10:34 p.m. Jeffires had been booked at the Nelson County Jail on charges of second-degree arson, first- and second-degree fleeing or evading police, first-degree wanton endangerment, third-degree terroristic threatening and resisting arrest.

Holbert said he had a kitchen butcher knife and an older-style razor blade, with which he allegedly threatened his wife.

“She made a statement he told her he was going to kill her,” Holbert said.

The couple's three children were also in the area, though Holbert was not sure whether they were in the house when the alleged argument occurred. The couple lives in the house, Holbert confirmed.

Jeffires had already allegedly fled by the time 10 members of the New Haven and Rolling Fork fire departments arrived on scene about 7:40 p.m.

New Haven Fire Chief Fred DeWitt estimated Jeffires had used about a half-gallon of gasoline, though it was hard to tell.

“It was pretty much all the way around the house,” Rolling Fork Fire Chief Frank Hall said.

Much of the gasoline was concentrated around the front porch and entrance, DeWitt added.

“He didn’t have that much gas there to start with, so we mainly just let it dry. Once it's dry the vapors are gone and the danger is gone,” DeWitt explained. “We don't really water it down, because it just spreads it farther.”

Holbert went to Flaget Memorial Hospital for treatment after the incident and is now using an air cast and crutches.