A Cobb County resident is about to be presented with an $8,500 reward by the Georgia Arson Control Board for her help investigating a 2017 arson that led to a man’s arrest and two-and-a-half-year jail term.

The female award recipient, whose identity has not yet been publicly released by the board, will be given the check at a Marietta fire station on Aug. 2 — three weeks after the convicted arsonist in the case was released from the county jail.

Matthew William Olson, 34, pleaded guilty to arson in the first degree after setting his east Cobb town home on fire Jan. 4, 2017.

He was arrested that day by Cobb police and ultimately spent 918 days in custody before being released, having served his sentence, on July 11.

Jail records show Olson now lives in Canton, just over 20 miles from where he torched his house in the 4000 block of Audubon Drive in east Cobb.

Olson faced 15 charges including felony counts of arson, possession of a controlled substance and fleeing or attempting to elude police.

His 12 misdemeanors included drunk, reckless and aggressive driving.

A July 17 press release from Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services states the reward check presentation will occur at 2 p.m. on Aug. 2 in the fire station at 4400 Lower Roswell Road in Marietta — only a couple of miles from the arson site.

“The citizen played an integral part in the two-year fire investigation,” the release stated. “Their actions and the evidence provided led directly to the apprehension and conviction of Mr. Olson.”

It stated Olson was also ordered to pay restitution as part of his sentence.

MDJ news reports about the 2017 fire state Cobb firefighters were called to Olson’s town home about 3:45 a.m.

At the time, Cobb fire spokesperson Lt. Dan Dupree said the firefighters were responding to an emergency medical call of a person threatening suicide at the property.

The 911 caller reported to authorities that Olson had threatened to ignite gasoline at the home, Dupree said.

When firefighters arrived on the scene they found the house vacant and flames blowing out the garage doors.

Burned to black with its roof missing, the two-story Pinecrest at Indian Hills town home was reduced to its framework after the fire spread to the second floor.

The house was part of a four-unit building, but adjacent town homes were spared serious damage and nobody was injured in the blaze.

Olson was apprehended less than four miles from the house, near the intersection of Fairbrook Circle and Johnson Ferry Road, around 8:20 a.m. that morning, following a brief pursuit.

Since 1979, Georgia Arson Control has paid out over $1.8 million through 614 reward checks to citizens who’ve helped report arson throughout the state.

GAC consultant Ken LeCroy told the MDJ the organization averages 10 or 12 rewards a year, and that the $8,500 check going to the Cobb woman in coming weeks will be the 10th such presentation statewide in the last 12 months.


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