Woman critically burned after neighbor allegedly firebombed home

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AKRON, Ohio -- A woman is fighting for her life after being critically burned inside of a house that was fire bombed, and a neighbor who called 911 is behind bars for allegedly starting the blaze.

The bluish-gray house at 114 Bachtel Avenue in Akron erupted in flames that could be seen several streets away around 8 p.m. on July 27, according to neighbors.

Akron firefighters and paramedics raced to the scene, and found 44-year-old Tamela Vargo with burns to 60% of her body.

Vargo was transported to the Akron Children’s Hospital Burn Unit, where she remains in critical condition.

“We saw the lady put in the ambulance,” said a neighbor only identified as Charlie, “It was... it was bad... it was real bad!”

Akron Fire Department arson investigators quickly determined that the fire had been intentionally set with an accelerant.

Their primary suspect became a man who lives right next door to the property and who called 911 to report the fire.

When asked by the dispatcher if he could see smoke and flames, 61-year-old Tommy Lee Tanner is heard on the 911 recordings replying, “Oh, it’s involved.”

Tanner was arraigned in Akron Municipal Court on 1 count of aggravated arson and 1 count of felonious assault. Bond was set at $100,000. He is currently behind bars at the Summit County Jail.

Stunned neighbors are still grappling with the fire and the arrest.

They say the house was vacant and wonder if Tanner did it, whether he knew anyone was inside.

“From what I know he’s a pretty good guy,” said Charlie.“ I wish the lady well though and hope she recovers.”

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