A 20-year-old Chelsea man has been charged with setting a fire last year that injured two firefighters and left 18 without a home – all over an alleged conflict with a resident of the building.
The indictment announcement came on Friday from Chelsea Fire Chief Robert Better Jr., State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan, Chelsea Police Chief Bryan Kyes, and Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley.
Nestor Perez, 20, of Chelsea, was arraigned Friday in Suffolk Superior Court on a charge of arson of a dwelling and two counts each of wanton destruction of property over $250 and causing injury to a firefighter. Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Brandt requested that bail be set in the amount of $5,000. Clerk Magistrate Connie Wong imposed $1,000 bail and ordered Perez to have no contact with any witnesses in the case.
According to prosecutors, Perez and two others were present at a three-family residence at 196 Washington Ave. on the evening of Oct. 22, 2013. Perez climbed the stairs to the second-floor porch, banged on the door, and demanded to see a resident with whom he had a conflict. He soon ran down the stairs and instructed the other individuals to leave the area. The group proceeded to a nearby convenience store.
A fire erupted on the second-floor porch within minutes of Perez being there, prosecutors said.
Two Chelsea firefighters were injured battling the three-alarm fire, which damaged the building beyond repair and caused thousands of dollars in heat and water damage to neighboring buildings, and displaced 18 people.
An investigation into the cause and origin of the fire revealed that after the fire was started on the second-floor porch, it spread into the second-floor apartment’s kitchen and then to the third-floor attic bedrooms and roof. Several combustible items had been stored on the porch, the investigation found.
The cause and origin investigation was led by the Chelsea Fire Department and State Troopers assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office. Chelsea Police detectives obtained footage from City of Chelsea public safety cameras and other surveillance cameras showing Perez in the area of the fire immediately after the fire started.
Suffolk prosecutors led the grand jury investigation.
Perez is represented by attorney Eduardo Masferrer, and he will return to court May 29.