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Fire

The scene at 7810 Hazelwood Drive Thursday morning after a fire.

Police have arrested a 40-year-old Adams man on suspicion of arson in a fire that destroyed an east Lincoln home Thursday.

Investigators believe Dennis Prokopec was harassing his ex-girlfriend, who lived at 7810 Hazelwood Drive, according to Officer Angela Sands. No one was home when the fire broke out just before 9 a.m.

When police spoke with him at his home three hours after the fire, Prokopec had burns on his nose and forehead and singed eyebrows. He denied any involvement in the fire and said the burns were from trouble with Nair hair removal, Sands said.

Investigators said neighbors saw a Chevy Traverse and a man walking behind the home shortly before the fire.

Prokopec still drives his ex-girlfriend's Traverse, and investigators found clothes inside his home that matched those worn by the man seen before the fire.

Officers didn't find Nair or any hair-removal products in their search of his home, according to an affidavit for his arrest.

Prokopec's ex-girlfriend also reported a wedding dress had been taken from the home before the fire. She broke off her engagement to him last summer and told police he'd been "obsessed" with the dress ever since.

The dress hasn't been recovered.

Fires were started on mattresses inside the home, in the living room and at the top of the stairs, leading investigators to believe the blaze was set intentionally, the affidavit said.

Officers arrested Prokopec on Saturday.

The fire caused an estimated $185,000 damage to the home valued for tax purposes at $120,200.

Lincoln Fire and Rescue crews rescued two cats from the home.

Prokopec has been charged with second-degree arson and burglary. At a hearing Monday, Lancaster County Judge Timothy Phillips set his bond at $250,000.

If convicted, Prokopec faces up to 24 years in prison.

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Reporter

Riley Johnson reports on breaking news and public safety issues in Lincoln and southeast Nebraska.

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