Police Looking For Arsonist Who Set Fire At Bridal Stores

MENTOR, Ohio (AP) - Police are looking for an arsonist who caused $500,000 in damage May 5 to a group of bridal and formal occasion stores.

Traces of gasoline were found.

Mentor Fire Chief Richard Harvey said, "We know the fire was intentional, but we're not going to speculate as to who might have set it or why they did."

The fire at the Bridal Center was first reported at 10:01 p.m. that Sunday by a passer-by, who called just as a smoke and motion alarm was sounding inside the building.

The strip mall has five bridal or special event-related stores on the main floor and a tax service and real estate agency in the basement.

The stores share a common main floor walkway and storage area under the building.

"I'm taking this personally -- this has hurt my business and my family," Bridal Center owner Tim Sobolya said.

Most of the businesses are expected to reopen within a week inside the trailers now parked in front of the burned-out building.

Sobolya said he knew of no motive for the arson.

"This is a happy business. People are getting married and going to prom, not getting mad enough to start a fire," he said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)