A Dubuque man was arrested on an arson charge Thursday after police said he started a fire next to stairs leading to his ex-girlfriend’s residence.

Timothy E. Scott, 53, of 1695 Garfield Ave., was arrested near the intersection of Humboldt Street and Garfield Avenue on a charge of first-degree arson.

Police responded to 1700 Rhomberg Ave. at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Court documents state that Jessica A. Zirtzman, 42, of that address, reported that she smelled smoke while working from home.

“When Zirtzman went outside to investigate, she saw a fire on the sidewalk that was less than 12 inches from a set of wooden stairs and dry grass right next to the house,” documents state.

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She saw Scott walking away. She ran inside, got a bucket of water and extinguished the fire before it reached the residence.

Scott returned to the area, admitted to starting the fire and then left again, documents state.

Police located him later, and he admitted to starting a fire. Documents state that the steps led to the apartment of Susan K. Breitbach, 52, who had broken up with Scott hours earlier.

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