INDIANAPOLIS — A Beech Grove man will serve time in federal prison after he admitted to two arsons that caused more than $1 million in damage.

In the government’s sentencing memorandum in the case against Casey Sage, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana said both of his arsons created serious threats to lives around the damaged properties.

Court documents detail the first of these fires happened at a woman’s apartment. He admitted to setting the fire in the middle of the day on April 15, 2021, before tipping off a maintenance employee on his way out.

That employee was almost overcome by smoke when he tried to combat the fire with a fire extinguisher. He evacuated the occupants from the other apartments before firefighters could arrive.

An investigation into the fire revealed the fire started near the bed and bedside table in the master bedroom. The two-bedroom apartment suffered extensive damage.

The sentencing memorandum said that the woman and her two children lost their home and belongings to the fire. The monetary value of their loss was approximately $10,000.

The fire caused $106,836 in costs to the apartment company to repair and restore the apartment along with lost rent and the cost of putting put displaced residents in a hotel.

Property can be replaced; human lives cannot

Zachary A. Myers

The sentencing memorandum said if the fire had not been dealt with so quickly, it could have easily spread to other homes, hurt or killed anyone caught in the flames.

“The arsons committed by the defendant were an outrageous course of conduct that endangered apartment complex residents and emergency personnel,” said Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

The second fire happened a few weeks later and caused a lot more damage.

Sage admitted to entering the Beech Grove Amtrak facility on May 1, 2021 without permission wearing dark clothing. Several hours after making his way onto the property, he approached a small building called “the paint building.”

Court documents detail that Amtrak employees use this building to store various chemicals used to clean and service train. This includes acetone, paint and denatured alcohol among over highly flammable materials.

Nearby the paint building is “the chemical building,” used to store a type of railroad flare, oil, grease, cleaners and other flammable materials.

Shortly after midnight, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Sage lit a railroad flare and threw it into the paint building. Within minutes, smoke was visibly coming from the building. Minutes after that flames were coming off the roof and spreading to another building.

Court documents detail that within ten minutes of the fire starting, Sage walked away from the buildings carrying two bottles and left through the train gate.

Photo//U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana

The fire caused several large explosions from the two buildings as the contents ignited. The court document details how canisters of burning material projected through the air and across the Amtrak facility.

The explosions, along with the massive amounts of hazardous material smoke, created a highly dangerous fire scene for public safety personnel. Court documents detail how the police officer who initially responded to the scene drove his police vehicle close to the location of the fires.

As the fires quickly grew, the document details the officer realized he was dangerously close to the explosions and drove his vehicle backward, eventually hitting an object and damaging his vehicle.

“When Casey Sage committed his egregious act of arson in the City of Beech Grove, he intentionally put the lives of our public safety officers, Amtrak workers and countless community members at risk,” said Beech Grove’s Mayor, Dennis Buckley.

The sentencing memorandum details that just a stone’s throw from where Sage started the fire is a bar, 24-hour bowling alley, firearm store, and a residential neighborhood. If the fire had spread to these properties, the damage could have been enormous.

Even with the fire not spreading beyond the Amtrak facility, the documents state Sage caused more than $1.1 million in damages.

Police were eventually able to capture Sage after they found security footage from a nearby gas station. They talked to the clerk who identified Sage and said she knew him for years.

When they found him, the document details how he admitted to the arsons and gave detailed specifics. He pleaded guilty to arson of a federal property and arson of property of an organization receiving federal financial assistance.

Sage will serve eight years in federal prison. As part of the sentence, Sage was ordered to be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for five years following his release.