Soldier on Trial in Arson that Killed Phoenix (AZ) Firefighter

Opening statements began Wednesday in the trial of Christopher Benitez, who faces a first-degree murder charge in the five-alarm arson fire at a grocery store that killed Phoneix (AZ) Firefighter Brett Tarver in 2001. Benitez, who was serving in the military in Fort Hood, Texas, when he was arrested for the arson in 2009, allegedly started the Southwest Supermarket Fire in retaliation for getting caught stealing from the store, according to a news report on

According to the Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department’s line-of-duty death (LODD) report on the incident, Tarver died after his SCBA ran out of air when he became disoriented inside the burning supermarket. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The structure and contents of the building, volume of fire, concealed spaces, and other considerations were major obstacles the Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department had to contend with during the March 14, 2001, incident. Read the full fatality report HERE.

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