Man accused of setting fire before calling 911

Let - Marcus Benjamin's booking photo (Franklin County Jail) Right - Benjamin speaks with NBC4's Katie Love at the fire scene

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A man who was originally credited with alerting neighbors and rescuing his son from a burning town house is now accused of setting the fire in the first place.

The fire happened early in the morning on February 17 on Parliament Drive near Reynoldsburg.

Marcus Benjamin, 30, was arrested Wednesday and charged with a felony count of aggravated arson.

According to court documents, Benjamin was seen on surveillance video buying gasoline and a white lighter 45 minutes before the fire started. Gasoline and a white lighter were found inside the burned unit by investigators.

Investigators also said Benjamin was asking people at the gas station if they wanted his dog, which he said he was unable to keep.

Benjamin spoke with NBC4’s Katie Love on the morning of the fire. He said, “Well, I was just sleeping in the room and I just started smelling the smoke coming through the walls Real heavy so I grabbed my phone, got my shoes on, and grabbed my son and call 911 dispatch and dispatch told me to try to get everyone out, and that’s what I did.”

Shortly before his arrest on Wednesday, Benjamin called NBC4 and said he was being held at a Columbus fire station and that he is not guilty of the charges. He claimed the gasoline he purchased was for his car.

After a short conversation, Benjamin hung up and said he needed to call a lawyer.

Benjamin appeared in Franklin County Municipal Court Thursday morning where bond was set at $50k. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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