Evanston police say one person is in custody in connection with a fire this afternoon at 1813 Lyons St. that officials are describing as an arson.

The fire broke out shortly after 2 p.m. in the west half of a newer, two-unit townhouse building on the property.

Several Evanston fire crews responded to the scene and were able to extinguish the blaze within about 20 minutes.

Update: 7:20 p.m.: Fire Division Chief Tom Janetske says no one was injured in the fire. Damage is estimated at $150,000.

Fire damage was contained to the second floor of the unit, but water and smoke entered the unburned areas. Janetske says the residents of the damaged home were able to find alternate housing with relatives. Residents of the adjoining townhouse were able to return to their home after the fire.

Janetske says fire investigators are working with police, but no charges have been filed in the case so far.

Update 4:51 p.m. 1/4/11: Police Cmdr. Tom Guenther says authorities have decided not to charge the suspect believed to have set the fire. He’s instead been deemed to be mentally incompetent and has been transferred to a mental institution for treatment.

Police hold a man in custody near the fire scene.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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