Man Charged With Arson, As Four Fires in Phillipsburg (NJ) Neighborhood Investigated

Kurt Bresswein

The Express-Times

(MCT)

A Phillipsburg man is in custody on an arson charge, as local and Warren County authorities investigate a series of four fires reported shortly after midnight Friday in a neighborhood in town, authorities said.

A house fire, two vehicle fires and a trash fire occurred within the span of a half-hour early Saturday in the area of South Main and Stockton streets, Phillipsburg Fire Chief Richard Hay told lehighvalleylive.com.

The blazes caused minor damage before being extinguished, Hay said. No one was reported injured.

Alfredo “Kevin” Gomez, 20, of the 300 block of South Main Street, is charged with aggravated arson after he was seen leaving the location of the fourth fire that was discovered, involving a Honda Pilot in the parking lot of St. Philip & St. James Catholic Church at 430 S. Main St., Warren County Prosecutor James Pfeiffer said.

Gomez matched the description of an individual seen on video surveillance using a lighter to ignite the SUV, Pfeiffer said. No accelerant was used, authorities said.

Gomez was taken to the Warren County jail and has a first appearance scheduled Wednesday in New Jersey Superior Court, the prosecutor said; the arson charge is a second-degree crime that, upon conviction, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine.

Gomez is only charged in the fourth fire, which was reported about 12:27 a.m. and caused body damage to the Honda, Pfeiffer said.

In the earlier fires, first reported about 12 a.m. Saturday, a piece of lawn furniture was lit and placed under the handle of a door to a building in the 100 block of Sitgreaves Street; a Nissan caught fire to the rear of River of Life Church in the 400 block of South Main Street, also causing body damage to the vehicle; and the rear exterior wall of a home sustained minimal fire damage, also in the 400 block of South Main, according to the prosecutor.

Pohatcong Township police were first to respond to the initial fire, on Sitgreaves Street, Pfeiffer said.

Phillipsburg police along with the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office are continuing to investigate the incidents, Pfeiffer said.

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Kurt Bresswein may be reached at kbresswein@lehighvalleylive.com.

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