Jeffrey L. Duvall, age 57 of St. James has been identified as the person responsible for setting a fire at the Sinclair Gas and Dino Mart, at 2003 N. Bishop on Sunday afternoon.

Jeffrey L. Duvall, age 57 of St. James has been identified as the person responsible for setting a fire at the Sinclair Gas and Dino Mart, at 2003 N. Bishop on Sunday afternoon. Duvall was employed at the Sinclair gas station as a shift manager and was present along with the day shift manager when the fire broke out, as reported by The Rolla Daily News in the Tuesday, August 29, edition.

Asst. Fire Chief Jeff Breen who headed the investigation for the fire department said, “We had eliminated all accidental ignition sources except one—the electric [junction] box, which had a wire inside and it showed some signs of heating from the inside.”
“As of Sunday it looked like the fire was unintentional, with our preliminary investigation. When we did our follow up investigation on Tuesday, we got word from the electrician that the wire in question was live, but wasn’t feeding any source. In other words, there was no load on the wire.”
 
Asst. Chief Breen compared this to a plugged in extension cord.
This enabled the investigative team to eliminate the box and internal wiring as a potential source of the fire. Asst. Chief Breen worked with Rick Barnes, the owner of the station, to view security video and this is where further evidence was found of possible criminal activity. The assistant chief called the State Fire Marshall’s office to get a fire investigator on the scene.
“We did a little reconstruction,” he said. “We put a rack on the cooler where the fire started to try to replicate what was there before the fire. Due to the proximity of the rack and the electric junction box (previously in question), we found that we could discount the box as a possible ignition source.”

The assistant chief added, “Until I could get verification from the electrician (about the electrical activity in the box) and complete the reconstruction on the scene, I couldn’t rule it out as a possible source [of the fire].

He said they shifted gears since they could eliminate anything that was electrical or accidental and started looking at this as an incendiary fire, or a fire set on purpose by a person. He said no accelerants (inflammatory liquids) were found at the site.

“At this time, we contacted the Rolla Police Department, Division of Criminal Investigations,” said the assistant fire chief.

During the course of the fire investigation by the Rolla Police Department’s Division of Criminal Investigations Unit, the City of Rolla Fire Department and Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office, it was determined that the fire had been intentionally set.

Captain Jason Smith with the Rolla Police Department sent out a media notice that said, “As a result of the investigation in this incident, Jeffrey L. Duvall, age 57 of St. James was identified as the person responsible for setting this fire. On Tuesday, August 29, Jeffrey L. Duvall was arrested on the charges of 1st Degree Arson and Felony Resisting Arrest. Mr. Duvall was incarcerated in the Phelps County Jail on a 24 hour hold. On August 30 a warrant was issued from the Circuit Court of Phelps County, Missouri charging Mr. Duvall with 1st Degree Arson and Felony Resisting Arrest. Mr. Duval remains incarcerated in the Phelps County Jail in lieu of a $100,000.00 bond.”