A Middletown man accused of starting a warehouse fire on New Year’s Day was arraigned Tuesday in Butler County Common Pleas Court on arson charges.
Joshua Lamb, 35, was charged by Middletown police with arson just a few hours after the huge fire began. He was indicted today for arson, a fourth-degree felony, and aggravated arson, a second-degree felony last week.
Lamb remains being bars in lieu of a $20,000 bond that was set a the municipal court level.
Defense attorney Robert Qucsai III entered not guilty pleas to the charges and requested Judge Charles Pater release the man so that he could work.
Qucsai said Lamb would be living at Hope House and has a job lined up. In addition, the attorney said Lamb would go to treatment.
But Pater noted a pre-trial services officer indicated that Hope House directors said Lamb would not be permitted to return because of the pending charges.
The judge ruled the bond would remain the same, noting the seriousness of the charges and Lamb’s lack of a permanent address.
The fire at the abandoned building burned for days and is estimated to cost the city more than $130,000 in demolition costs and firefighter overtime.
During a preliminary hearing last month in municipal court, Middletown Detective Steve Winters said Lamb, who is homeless, told him he started the fire. When he walked away to get more wood, his bedding caught fire and he fled the scene in the early morning on New Year’s Day.
Winters said he found Lamb in an alley on Broad Street, and during an interview that day at the police station, he told police four other homeless people lived at the facility on Verity Parkway.
Middletown Fire Chief Paul Lolli said firefighters cleared the scene about 8 p.m. Jan. 3, but fire crews continued to do drive-bys throughout the night to make sure that any hotspots did not ignite.
The 11-acre site of 61 parcels is located at 300 S. Verity Parkway and had an estimated 400,000 to 600,000 square feet of space.
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