Keokuk Arsonist Must Cooperate On Other Cases

Keokuk, IA – A Keokuk man will have to help in a state investigation after pleading guilty to multiple counts of arson at the federal level.

Travis Thrush, 21, entered guilty pleas in U.S. District Court on Nov. 13 to three counts of arson affecting interstate commerce. His plea agreement required Thrush to admit to damaging three structures in Keokuk between May 2008 and January 2009.

They are the First Baptist Church, Meyer's Septic and County Market.

The fire at the First Baptist Church was reported by a church member opening the church's educational building on May 18, 2008. The Keokuk Fire Department extinguished the fire, which caused fire, heat, smoke, and water damage to the building and its contents.

The fire was deemed to be incendiary in nature, with at least two points or origin.

The fire at the rear storage building of Meyer's Septic was observed by a citizen standing on a bridge on Jan. 6, 2009. Another fire was discovered in a dumpster near the front office building.

These fires also resulted in fire, heat, smoke, and water damage to the storage building and its contents. They were also found to have had multiple points of origin.

The third fire was discovered at County Market on January 9, 2009. A group of hay bales, outside the building had been set on fire.

The building had to be evacuated because the fire was close to a storage container for propane tanks. The grocery store was not damaged, but a near-by aluminum structure was.

Keokuk Police Chief Tom Crew says Thrush must provide information, as part of his plea agreement, about a pair of fires at the Bethany Baptist Church in late 2008. He says those incidents are likely to be prosecuted at the state level.

Crew says Thrush must be honest when asked about any other fires under investigation. He says that could lead to several arson fire cases being resolved.

Travis Thrush will be sentenced on March 26, 2010. He faces up to 60 years in prison and/or up to $750,000 in fines for the three counts of arson affecting interstate commerce.