A Norwalk man pleaded guilty Tuesday to setting a Willard house on fire.
Samuel E. Sherck, 59, of 520 Milan Ave., Lot 34, will be sentenced Oct. 1 for arson. He pleaded guilty to an amended charge, which was reduced from a second-degree felony to a fourth-degree felony. The defendant faces six to 18 months in jail and isn't prison eligible because he doesn't have a prior felony conviction.
Sherck had placed the two-story house at 6 B&O Pike in Willard on the market in attempt to sell it. The homeowners lived there two to three years and were in the process of moving out.
"There wasn't much action on it," Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff said.
Sherck then went to the house and started a fire using a cigarette, Woodruff said.
The March 30 fire destroyed the structure. There was a joint investigation by Willard Fire & Rescue, the Willard Police Department and Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office.
Twenty-one firefighters responded to the scene in three engines, a ladder truck and several support vehicles after being dispatched at 6:12 p.m. Three ambulances also were there.
"We went right into defensive mode; it was that involved," fire Chief Joe Reiderman said after the fire.
A fire marshal's investigator interviewed Sherck at the fire station March 31. Police arrested him after he confessed to the crime and was transported to the Huron County Jail. Sherck was released two days later when he posted a $15,000 bond.