Cedar Rapids Man Charged With Arson In July Fire

By Lee Hermiston, Reporter

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By Richard Pratt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Nearly two months after he tried to turn himself in to the Linn County Jail after a strange sequence of events, a Cedar Rapids man is in custody for intentionally setting fire to his home.

According to Cedar Rapids Police records, Ken Ngombwa, 53, of 3141 Sixth St. SW, was arrested Monday evening for second-degree arson and insurance fraud.

The charges relate to a series of events that occurred on the evening of July 1. Police and fire officials said Ngombwa was at the center of those events.

It all began shortly before midnight when police responded to 2472 Fruitland Blvd. SW for a domestic incident. Police said Ngombwa had gotten into a verbal dispute at the residence. However, no charges were filed and officers left the residence.

Police were back at the residence an hour later when an adult family member reported Ngombwa was suicidal. Police said they could hear fire alarms going off at the residence, which led to firefighters responding to the home.

Fire crews arrived on the scene at 12:44 a.m. and encountered smoking coming from the two front bedroom windows of the single-story residence. Firefighters entered the residence, encountered thick smoke and attacked a fire in the bedroom.

Cedar Rapids Fire Department spokesman Greg Buelow said that the fire - which caused extensive damage to the bedroom where it originated and smoke damage to the remainder of the residence - appeared to be intentionally set. At the time, Buelow said officials couldn't say for certain who started the fire.

Ngombwa had left the scene before police and fire officials arrived to combat the blaze.

However, county officials said Ngombwa showed up at the Linn County Jail lobby and told deputies he wanted to turn himself in because of the previous domestic incident. When he was told deputies had nothing to hold him on, Ngombwa lay down in the jail lobby and refused to leave. That prompted deputies to arrest him for interference with official acts.

Police interviewed Ngombwa at the jail, but no additional charges were filed at that time.
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