Arson suspect denies setting Columbus fire

Ricky Lovins says he did not set the fires he's accused of starting.
Published: .
Updated: .

An accused arsonist tells Eyewitness News he did not set two fires in Columbus.

Ricky Lovins was arrested as he sat watching firefighters put out a blaze behind the Cummins building on Jackson Street.

"The individual was approaching the firefighters, questioning them as they were trying to do their work. He said he was just curious about the fire," said Columbus Fire Department spokesman Mike Wilson.

The fire department said its firefighters suddenly realized they'd see the man somewhere before - just hours before the Cummins fire. They saw Lovins at a fire behind a nearby house that gutted the suspect's own car.

"About everything I own was in it. I had left Lexington, I was tired of all the killing and the robbing," Lovins said.

Lovins says he's a veteran and is sometimes homeless. He takes anti-anxiety drugs and drugs for mental problems.

"Every time I don't take my medicine, I break out in handcuffs," Lovins said Monday.

He thinks a mechanical problem sparked the early morning car fire. He says he didn't burn it. It held most of his possessions.

"I didn't know what to do. I was crying, I was walking and crying. All the memories that were in my car," Lovins said.

Within a few hours of the car fire, he was at Cummins, watching the blaze there. But security cameras were watching him.

"They were able to see that individual on the video. Put him on the scene," Wilson said.

It showed Lovins going through the dumpster, investigators say.

"I got up there and smoked a couple cigarettes that's it," Lovins said.

Maybe he dropped a cigarette into it, he says, accidentally. But he was in the dumpster because he saw something there.

"There was big electrical panel boxes with big long cords on them," Lovins said.

He says he was taking the scrap metal, too.

Despite being at the scenes of two suspicious fires the same morning and having a previous charge of burning down a barn, he denies arson.

"Anybody who knows me knows that's not Ricky Lovins. That's not me," he said.