Man allegedly hired to set house on fire for $5,000

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Arrested after being followed by authorities

PHOENIX - Investigators say Michael Agra was hired to burn a house down he is now behind bars.

The house he allegedly torched is located at the intersection of 3rd Avenue and Northern in Phoenix. It all started a few days ago when authorities received an anonymous tip that Agra was paid by a homeowner to set fire to their house.

Figuring the tip was legit police and Phoenix Fire started working together and began to follow Agra. Early on Sunday at around 3 a.m. they say they saw him leave the house in question as flames began pouring out of the roof.

Agra is now facing a 2nd degree felony charge of arson. He was arrested at his home off 20th Avenue and Camelback while firefighters battled the flames they say he ignited just a few moments earlier.

Capt. Willie Nelson tells 3TV, "Once Michael drove away and we saw the flames in the house, our concern was life safety so we went into the structure to make sure nobody was inside."

Fortunately nobody was inside. Agra supposedly started the blaze by packing rags soaked in flammable liquid in the attic and lighting them on fire. According to the fire department, he is friends with the owner of the house and he did no have to break in to commit the alleged arson. Capt. Nelson explains, "He had keys to the house."

Police and fire officials are still in the beginning stages of the investigation and detectives do not have a motive as to why Agra was allegedly paid to set fire to the home or who was going to fork over the cash.

However, authorities do say he was offered around $5,000 to do it. 3TV spoke to the homeowner's ex-husband, Mike Ishnikov, who said, "No no no...I don't think so."

Ishnikov went over to take a look at the damage. He says he has been divorced for some seven years now and rarely talks to his ex-wife but says she would never hire someone to burn her house down. He asks, "Why would she want to hire somebody for that...Why?"

3TV talked to the owner of the house, Nancy Ishnikov, on the phone. She said, "I don't really know what is going on. Nobody has told me anything yet." She says she did no know much about the incident and her lawyer would call 3TV back. Her lawyer did no call 3TV back.

Again, this is very early in the investigation but police and fire officials are talking to Nancy Ishnikov although right now she is not considered a suspect.

There are no specifics but 3TV has been told Agra does have a criminal history.