TOMS RIVER — A couple's argument at a New Year's Eve party led to a fire being set that destroyed their home the next morning.

Christopher Defeis, 45, assaulted his wife during the party at a relative's home Monday night before returning to his home on 15th Street in the Silverton section, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said Wednesday.

Defeis poured gasoline in the kitchen, dining room and family room of his single-level house and set it on fire before returning to his car parked in the driveway, according to Billhimer. Police said they found him sleeping in the vehicle.

Fire and police searched the home believing people were trapped inside. Firefighter Mike Mooney was burned as he exited the home when a "flash" condition occurred, according to the Silverton Volunteer Fire Company. He was treated and released.

Defeis was charged with domestic violence simple assault, second-degree aggravated arson, third-degree aggravated assault and third-degree causing or creating an injury to a firefighter. He was being held Wednesday at the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

This was the second arson reported this week. A Somerville man has been charged with setting his girlfriend's Hillsborough ablaze while eights people were inside. 

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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