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Neighbors say man was arrested at house day before fatal Henderson fire

Updated September 27, 2023 - 8:04 pm

A person was found dead after a large fire gutted a Henderson house on Wednesday morning.

The identity of the person found dead in the fire has not been released, and police said the Clark County coroner’s office would release the name.

Neighbors said the man who lives at the house was arrested the day before at the property.

Henderson Municipal Court records show Cesar Francisco Olea faces a misdemeanor charge of resisting a public officer, with the offense date listed as Tuesday.

Olea is listed as the homeowner of the Kransten Drive home, according to Clark County records.

Neighbors also identified the man by the same name.

Court records also show that Olea was arrested on a charge of domestic battery in May. The case resulted in a stay of adjudication.

Henderson police and fire crews responded to the fire, which sent a huge plume of black smoke over the city, at about 8:40 a.m. Wednesday.

Neighbors who gathered outside the house, in the 1900 block of Kransten Drive, near North Valle Verde Drive and Silver Springs Parkway, spoke about witnessing the large, smoky inferno.

One neighbor, Darren Rodriguez, said Olea had once been more congenial but in recent years he has become more reclusive.

“He’s been here a long time in this neighborhood, and was very friendly for a lot of years, and still kind of was, but definitely more isolated,” Rodriguez said in an interview.

Rodriguez had lived next door to the now fire-ravaged house for 15 years — until he moved to another house nearby on Comfort Drive a few weeks ago. On Wednesday, his mother moved into that same house that Rodriguez had lived in, next door to the house that burned.

In the morning, she called him after hearing a loud bang. Rodriguez said he ran over from his house. The garage was on fire. He said he also heard loud pops.

“It was a really bad fire,” Rodriguez said.

Police said the cause of the fire was still being investigated by the Henderson Fire Department, while detectives were investigating the death.

“The circumstances surrounding the deceased individual is unknown at this time, and currently is being investigated by Henderson Police Department Detectives,” the Henderson police statement said.

Next-door neighbor Travis Bush said he saw the arrest on Tuesday.

Asked about the incident, Henderson Police Department declined to confirm that or release any further information.

“As this is an open investigation, no further details will be released at this time,” police said in the statement.

As the flames ravaged the house, a neighbor, James Cerio, 33, ran to Bush’s house to grab his sister’s dog Penny.

Cerio said he saw all the smoke, and without knowing which house on fire, amid the chaos, wanted to make sure the dog was safe.

Ring camera footage from Cerio’s house captured Cerio running away from the fire with the dog as the flames burn in the background.

“That’s my hero,” said his sister, Katherine Cerio, 37. “That’s my brother who saved my dog.”

“I tried to stay calm in the face of panic,” her brother said. “I’m not a hero or anything.”

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com.

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