Columbus man charged in Volunteers of America warehouse fire

Aaron Callicoat
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COLUMBUS -- A Columbus man was charged with arson in the Volunteers of America warehouse fire at 5460 West Broad Street on January 2.

Aaron J. Callicoat, 32, was charged with six felonies in relation to the fire, including aggravated arson, vandalism, two other counts of arson and possessing criminal tools.

According to the indictment, Callicoat is a repeat violent offender and knowingly set fire to the VOA warehouse.

When investigating any fire, Columbus Division of Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin says his officials are looking to cross all causes off the list.

"For arson cases, it's very difficult because we have to rule out any potential accidental causes,” Battalion Chief Steve Martin said.

Martin says sometimes, it just might be a matter time before a suspect reveals himself or herself.

"We have a very skilled set of investigators that, this is all they do. We will watch people and wait for them to make mistakes,” Martin said.

Authorities say they had someone in mind after learning the Volunteers of America fire had been set intentionally.

"Investigators identified that Callicoat was a suspect and so they had to basically just kind of wait until they had enough evidence that they could give to a prosecutor that made enough sense that there was going to be a case,” Martin said.

Aaron Callicoat is accused of lighting the warehouse on fire back in January, but that’s not all.

Investigators say Callicoat confessed to setting a house on fire on Ruhl Avenue in 2012. In those court documents, investigators said Callicoat has a fascination with fire.

He admitted to setting several fires during an interview with investigators.

Investigators also called Callicoat a serial arsonist and a danger to the citizens of Columbus.

Investigators say Callicoat didn’t stop after the Volunteers of America incident.

He’s also accused of stealing a man’s car and lighting it on fire in May.

Callicoat is also charged with kidnapping and rape in a separate incident just this summer.

The Volunteers of America fire caused $150,000 in damage.

"Some of the serial arsonists, we've had, it might just be dumpsters. They just like the thrill of setting something on fire and seeing the fire truck arrive,” Martin said.

But Martin says when it could lead to larger fires, it becomes a danger to the public.

Aaron Callicoat will be in court Wednesday for the Volunteers of America fire. He will appear in court in December on kidnapping, rape, and other charges.

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