Primghar, Iowa — Michael Ling is a Fire Investigator with Unified Investigations & Sciences, and spent most of Wednesday afternoon on the stand in the Arson and Insurance Fraud trial of 36-year old Kristina Manasil of Sheldon. Manasil is accused of setting a fire that destroyed her business, Buddz’s and the Rec Bowl, in May, 2013.
Ling told jurors that he inspected the remains of the Buddz’s structure to try and determine the cause of the blaze. He testified that there was no fire damage on the east side of the building, and that most of the damage was to the south side. He said there was more charring to the sheet rock in that area. Ling testified that the storage room showed 100% fire damage from wall to wall and ceiling to ceiling. Ling showed various photos to the jury as he explained his findings.
Ling told jurors that he contacted an electrical engineer to inspect the building, as well. He said debris from the storage room was placed on a tarp to preserve it, and that samples were sent to a forensic laboratory in Arlington, Texas for examination. Ling said that there was no positive indicator for ignitable fluid, but said that isn’t unusual, due to water saturation from fighting the fire.
Ling told jurors that, in his scientific opinion, the blaze was deliberately set. He said that natural fire will not progress as quickly as the blaze that destroyed the bowling alley.
Manasil is charged with 1st Degree Arson and Insurance Fraud in connection with the fire.
The trial will resume Thursday morning at 9:30 at the O’Brien County Courthouse in Primghar.
Information on Wednesday morning’s court session can be found here.