Police: Firework started Auburn library fire

AUBURN, Ind. (WANE) A 24-year-old Auburn man has been arrested and charged with a fire that badly damaged the public library in Auburn last week.

Nykolas E. Elkin

Nykolas E. Elkin, who was last known to reside at the Super 8 Motel in Auburn, was arrested Thursday evening on felony charges of Possession of a Destructive Device or Explosive with intent and Arson related to the July 2 fire at the Eckhart Public Library.

The Auburn Fire Department was called around 2:30 a.m. that Sunday to the library at 603 S. Jackson St. on a report of a fire. Fire Chief Mike VanZile told NewsChannel 15 that crews arrived to find heavy smoke rising from the building, and fire was found on the first floor of the library.

The flames were quickly extinguished, VanZile said, but the library sustained heavy damage to its first floor and smoke and heat damage to its basement and first floor. Library Director Janelle Graber said books, materials, furnishings and computers all were damaged, and Library Board President Carolyn Foley said the library’s entire collection of DVDs and audio books was lost according to a report from the Associated Press.

Fire broke out around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, July 2, 2017, at the Eckhart Public Library in Auburn.

Two days later, VanZile said the blaze appeared to be an “intentional act fire.” The chief asked for the public’s help to solve the case.

In a news conference Friday, Auburn Police Chief Martin McCoy said a combined investigation by the Auburn Fire Department, the Auburn Police Department, the Indiana State Fire Marshalls Office, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Indiana State Police and Vergon & Associates Fire Investigation found that the fire was started by a firework that had been lit and placed in the book return drop chute at the library’s main entrance.

Tips from the public then led police to Elkin. McCoy did not explain why, but he thanked the public for the help.

“The Auburn Police would also like to thank the Citizens who called and provided the information that eventually led Police to the person responsible for this crime,” said McCoy.