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Man charged with attempted murder in trailer house fire (UPDATED) Tell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
Smoke pours out of the trailer
Photo by George Lauby
Air tanks are laid out for the firefighters who went inside.
Photo by George Lauby
Afterwards, firefighters catch a little rest on the lawn.
Photo by Lincoln County Detention Center
James Theodore Brown

James Theodore Brown, 58, was charged Monday night with trying to kill his girlfriend and burn down her trailer house, after a fire consumed the interior of the home on the east side of North Platte.  

Brown allegedly set the trailer house afire in the 300 block of McCabe Ave.

The fire broke out shortly after 7 p.m. Police who were headed there to check out a reported domestic disturbance found the home burning when they arrived.

Police spokesman John Deal said the officers met a woman, 54, outside the home, with a bleeding cut on her forehead, wearing clothes that were wet and smelled of gasoline. They also found Brown outside the home. He was detained and taken to an unspecified safe location, Deal said.

The woman was taken to Great Plains Health, treated and released. She suffered no serious injuries, Deal said.

After the initial investigation, police believe Brown and the woman got into an argument, then Brown went outside, returned with a gas can and splashed gas on the woman and the interior of the home. Brown allegedly said something about burning the trailer down and tried to light a cigarette lighter, but the woman took it away and broke it, according to the police report.  

Brown reportedly hit the woman in the head. When she tried to get out the back door, he allegedly grabbed her by the hair and held her back. Eventually she escaped and ran to the neighbor's house for help, Deal said.

Soon after, the fire took hold, Deal said.

A search warrant was obtained, and after the fire was out, the search turned up a gas can, a broken lighter and other unspecified evidence inside the house, Deal said.

James was charged with attempted homicide, first-degree arson, domestic assault and false imprisonment. He was taken to the Lincoln County jail and held without bond, pending arraignment in court. 

Brown has a prior conviction for domestic assault, in 2012, so the assault charge was upgraded to a felony.

Neighbor Seth Smith, who lives next door, said he was at a union meeting when his fiancé sent him a message at 7:09 p.m. and told him about the fire. She said she heard a loud bang and a scream for help, Smith said. He hurried home and found his place was okay.

The burned trailer was also home to a dog, which was not hurt.

Fire Chief Dennis Thompson said firefighters from all three North Platte fire stations responded and quickly knocked down the flames, although the contents emitted heavy smoke for more than a half hour. The trailer and contents are a total loss.

No other homes were damaged.

McCabe is on the east side of North Platte, a block west of Gary's Super Foods.


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 8/28/2017
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