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Arson suspected in house fire

Anyone with information about the fire at 928 Eighth Ave. N.W., should call the fire department at 285-8072 or the Arson Hotline at 1-800-723-2020.

Rewards of up to $2,500 may be available for information leading to the identification of the person or people responsible for the fire.

From staff reports

Rochester's chief fire investigator has ruled a fire that forced a man to leave his wheelchair and crawl out of his burning house as suspicious.

Fire Marshall Vance Swisher said all initial indications point to an intentionally set fire at 928 Eighth Ave. N.W. Authorities are asking for the public's help.

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Meanwhile, the victim, double-leg amputee Dragomir Curkovic, said he doesn't think he is a target. "If it's a crime, in the case somebody threw something, it's not because he knows me," he said Monday.

"I don't believe it is against me, because there is absolutely no reason," said Curkovic, a Bosnian Serb refugee who arrived here with his family 13 years ago.

At the same time, the 49-year-old man, who works at the Mayo Clinic, was searching for an explanation for the Saturday afternoon fire.

He was home alone watching a soccer match on TV when heard a strange noise, "like a bird or a pigeon" hitting a window. Smoke filled the room, and his front door was blocked by flames. Smoke forced Curkovic to abandon his wheelchair and crawl out the side door and down three steps to safety.

The fire, which is being investigated by both fire and police officials, caused an estimated $30,000 to $50,000 damage.

Deputy Fire Chief Lyle Felsch said this morning that officials have received calls from several people about things they saw prior to the fire. Felsch said the information is helpful in the investigation.

On a brighter note, a group of teen-age neighbors donated $220 to the Curkovic family. On Sunday, the teens knocked on doors throughout the neighborhood collecting contributions.

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