Man charged with ar­son

Fire causes $100K dam­age to Main Street mo­tel

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­[email protected]­

A fire that caused $100,000 in dam­age to a Main Street mo­tel last week was in­ten­tion­ally set and came af­ter an ear­lier dis­tur­bance at the mo­tel, of­fi­cials said.

The fire was re­ported around 10:45 p.m. Dec. 7, but po­lice were first called to the Su­per 8 at 268 E. Main Street an hour ear­lier for a noise com­plaint, ac­cord­ing to Ne­wark Po­lice Depart­ment spokesman Lt. An­drew Ru­bin.

Ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments, the man was drunk and throw­ing bot­tles in his room.

Po­lice warned the man to be quiet and left, but later were called back to the same room for an­other noise com­plaint. When of­fi­cers ar­rived, they looked through a win­dow and saw fire in the room. They broke out the win­dow and res­cued the man, who was ly­ing on the bed, Ru­bin said.

As other of­fi­cers evac­u­ated the rest of the mo­tel and alerted the fire depart­ment, po­lice led the shirt­less man away in hand­cuffs. He was taken to the hos­pi­tal to be treated for cuts and smoke in­hala­tion.

NPD turned the in­ves­ti­ga­tion over to the Delaware State Fire Mar­shal’s of­fice, which charged the man, Larry E. O’Neal Jr., 44, of Wilm­ing­ton, with first-de­gree ar­son and first-de­gree reck­less en­dan­ger­ing.

A wit­ness who was stay­ing in the room next to O’Neal’s later told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he heard O’Neal say, “I’m go­ing to burn this down,” prior to the fire.

O’Neal was com­mit­ted to the Howard Young Cor­rec­tional In­sti­tute in lieu of a $10,000 se­cured bond.

As­sis­tant State Fire Mar­shal Michael G. Chion­chio said O’Neal pur­posely ig­nited items in­side the room but de­clined to pro­vide ad­di­tional de­tails.

The fire, which even­tu­ally spread to the roof, dam­aged two sec­ond-floor rooms, and two rooms un­der­neath of them sus­tained wa­ter dam­age. The mo­tel does not have a sprin­kler sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to Deputy Chief A.J. Schall, of Aetna Hose, Hook and Lad­der Com­pany.

Ap­prox­i­mately 60 fire­fight­ers from seven fire de­part­ments re­sponded to the scene and worked for ap­prox­i­mately two hours. Main Street was closed for three hours, and the Ne­wark Pub­lic Works Depart­ment was called in to treat the road for ice caused by wa­ter from the fire hoses.

While the fire was con­tained to the rear of the mo­tel, the city fire mar­shal ruled the build­ing un­in­hab­it­able as of Dec. 7, Schall said. The Amer­i­can Red Cross as­sisted af­fected guests.


Po­lice lead a hand­cuffed Larry E. O’Neal Jr. away from the fire scene at the Su­per 8 mo­tel on Main Street on Dec. 7.


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