Bound Brook man charged with arson in massive downtown fire
BOUND BROOK — A borough resident was arrested after being accused of starting the fire that destroyed two under-construction apartment buildings on Sunday night.
Hector Juan Padilla, 28, of Bound Brook, was charged with second-degree aggravated arson and third-degree hindering in connection to the massive and devastating fire in the borough's downtown. Additional charges may be coming, Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson said Tuesday afternoon during a news conference.
The five-story Meridia apartments on Mountain Avenue were quickly engulfed in flames just before 8 p.m. and took several hours to be brought under control after firefighters were able to contain the fire to the block. Flames could be seen for miles and embers from the fire sparked some small brush fires.
Padilla was seen on video surveillance cameras walking in the area of the Meridia 2 building several times just before the fire started, according to Robertson. Authorities on Tuesday did not reveal how he started the fire or why. Padilla was being held at the Somerset County Jail pending a detention hearing.
Robertson said 36 fire companies from Somerset, Middlesex, Union, Hunterdon, and Mercer Counties, as well as the New Jersey State Forestry Service responded to the fire.
Mayor Bob Fazen said that the developers of the project have committed to rebuilding the complex and have already started demolition.
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