Police have suspect in early morning fire

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Right now, Battle Creek police are on a manhunt for the person witnesses say set a house fire Friday morning.

It happened on North McKinley Avenue, in Battle Creek.

No one was in the house at the time, but family members say someone threatened to burn the place down Thursday.

Police now say they know who the suspect is, but they are declining to name him publicly at this point.

The Fire Inspector tells Newschannel 3 that they're working to collect evidence of the possible accelerant that helped the home go up in flames.

We spoke to the family, who says they gave police the text message from a jealous ex-boyfriend.

Ronald Hoyt says he came back home Friday morning to find his home on fire.

With the interior full of smoke damage, he says he's thankful his daughter--and the three children she has with the suspect, all under the age of four--weren't inside.

"It's just things that have to be replaced," Hoyt said. "We do have insurance, but I don't know what I'd do if my babies were hurt."

Investigators are starting to piece together what may have happened, with the help of eyewitnesses who claims he saw the suspect go inside the house.

Neighbors say they've noticed the suepct speeding through their neighborhood for several days.

Hoyt says he hopes justice is served soon, to protect his daughter.

"She came here to get out of the relationship, and you see, this is the result," Hoyt said.

Police say the quick action of these neighbors looking out for each other, and calling 9-1-1 right away, is what helped them get a good description of the suspect, and stop the fire from spreading further.