Sheriff: Arson suspected in house soon to be occupied by sex off - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Sheriff: Arson suspected in house soon to be occupied by sex offender

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TOWN OF COTTAGE GROVE (WKOW) -- The Dane County Sheriff's Office is investigating a suspected arson in a house that a registered sex offender was scheduled to move into next week.

Fire crews responded to a call of smoke coming from the lower portion of a home in the 4700 block of Gaston Circle after 10:00 p.m.  They quickly extinguished the flames, but found evidence to suggest it had been set on purpose.
Detectives and lab technicians spent Tuesday morning collecting more evidence from the home for their investigation.

The fire comes just days after deputies notified neighbors that a registered sex offender, 40 year-old Howard Nyberg, would be placed in the home under supervised release.  Nyberg was convicted on two counts of sexual assault of a child in Dane County in 1994 and is currently living in a secure treatment facility under the supervision of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.  The notification also stated a public meeting on Nyberg's placement would be held this Thursday night at the Cottage Grove Town Hall.  That meeting has since been postponed due to the arson investigation.

Neighbor Lynn Arneson told 27 News some people in the area were very upset and that her husband wasn't surprised to see fire trucks Monday night.

"First thing out of his mouth - 'someone set the house on fire, was arson,'" said Arneson.  "We stood and watched, I was up the whole time watching the flashing lights. I've never seen so many flashing red lights."

Arneson said a number of families with small children live in the immediate area.

Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said the investigation is still ongoing, but that the nature of the incident is very concerning.

"It should be a concern to members of the community as well, whether it's targeted at this residence and this individual or, if it turns out to be an arson, it's a concern for everybody in that area,"  said Sheriff Mahoney.

Greg Neumann will have more on this story on 27 News at 5 and 6.


UPDATE (WKOW) -- The Dane County Sheriff's Office says they're investigating an early morning house fire as possible arson.

Sheriff David Mahoney tells 27 News the home in the Town of Cottage Grove was unoccupied at the time, but it is the same house where a registered sex offender was scheduled to move into next week. Sheriff Mahoney says they released information to the public recently about the sex offender moving into the home, and had already scheduled his move-in date.

Detectives and lab technicians have been collecting evidence all morning.


UPDATE (WKOW) -- Cottage Grove Police Department told 27 News that Dane County Sheriff's Office has taken over the investigation into a fire at a structure in Cottage Grove.

Dane County Communications told us that an officer has been assigned to the area, but it's no longer an active call.

A fire broke out late Monday night at a house on Gaston Circle.  Multiple agencies were called to assist.


COTTAGE GROVE (WKOW) -- Dane County Sheriff's deputies were still on scene this morning where a house fire took place.

Dane County Communications says the incident happened on Gaston Circle near the I-94 freeway late Monday night.  Multiple agencies were called to assist with the fire.

Officials have not been able to confirm whether or not anyone was inside when the blaze broke out.  27 News crews say there was no visible damage on the outside of the structure.  Detectives were using flashlights to go inside and search for evidence.

The fire is still under investigation.

Stay with for details as we learn them.

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