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GH woman sent to jail for arson

Becky Vargo • Feb 20, 2018 at 8:00 AM

A 65-year-old Grand Haven woman has been ordered to serve 15 days in jail for setting fire to a mobile home on Aug. 17, 2016.

Karen Lynn Brown was also placed on probation for five years when she was sentenced Monday on a second-degree arson charge in Ottawa County Circuit Court.

This was the second arson conviction for Brown, who also served five years probation after a mobile home fire in Coopersville in 1994.

Judge Jon Hulsing noted that significant mental issues could be the underlying cause of Brown’s situation. He told the woman that if her situation was different, she would be facing a much harsher penalty.

Still, the judge wanted to make sure Brown understood that it was wrong for her to set fires. That’s why he sent her to jail for what he said was a short sentence.

“I’m doing what the court believes best for the protection of the community,” Hulsing said.

The judge noted that each time Brown started a fire, she placed the public, first responders and the environment at risk.

Firefighters from the City of Grand Haven and Grand Haven Township responded to a fire at Lot 281 in the Village Green community at 8 p.m. Aug. 17, 2016. The occupants, Brown and her sister, had safely evacuated.

“On arrival, officers found flames visible in the front door and a window near the front door,” Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said at the time. “Firefighters made entry and extinguished the fire.”

The fire was knocked down within a half-hour, but Lt. Joe Boyle of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety said the home was a total loss. He did not have a damage estimate.

Boyle said the department’s fire investigator determined that the fire started with a candle in a bedroom of the home. 

The investigator ruled the fire as arson, Boyle said. It was not accidental, he emphasized.

After Monday’s sentencing, Brown’s brother, Robert Camps, said his sister has suffered from depression for many years. He also noted that she has a cognitive disability and “almost acts as an adolescent.”

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