Larry E. O’Neal Jr., 44, of Wilmington, Delaware has been arrested by the State Fire Marshal’s office today and charged with Arson in the First Degree and Reckless Endangering in the First Degree. Both charges are felonies. O’Neal has been committed to the Young Correctional Institute in lieu of a $10,000 secured bond.
It’s believed that O’Neal was taken into custody by State Fire Marshals as he was released from Christiana Hospital.
The Delaware Office of the State Fire Marshal has ruled that last night’s motel fire in Newark was arson, according to Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio.
The incident began shortly after 10:30 Friday evening when firefighters from the Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company, along with mutual aid from Christiana Fire, Mill Creek Fire Company, Cranston Heights Fire Company, University of Delaware Emergency Care Unit, and New Castle County Paramedics were dispatched to the Super 8 Motel on East Main Street for reports that the building was on fire and guest were trapped.
Stationed just blocks from the scene, Aetna’s Engine 9 arrived first and reported that fire was showing from a second floor unit of the two-story motel. As crews began their search they learned that Officers with the Newark Delaware Police Department were able to rescue a trapped occupant prior to their arrival.
At 10:49 Deputy Chief Schall struck a 2nd alarm which brought Five Points Fire Company, Minquas Fire, and Belvedere Fire Company to the scene as well as FIELDCOM (New Castle County 911 mobile communications post) and the St. Francis Hospital EMS Rehab Unit.
As crews worked to knock the fire down additional fire personnel, working alongside Newark Police Officers, searched room to room for additional victims. All searches were negative.
Delaware State Police Aviation’s Trooper 4 was also dispatched to the scene and was hovering above the scene. They were cleared once crews determined that they would not be needed for transport.
Chionchio said that Deputy fire marshals from the State Fire Marshal’s Office were called to the scene to conduct the investigation. The scene examination revealed that a person had intentionally ignited items inside the room and investigators are following up on leads as to those responsible for starting this fire, added Chionchio.
A 44-year-old man was transported to Christiana Hospital by ambulance with New Castle County Paramedics accompanying. He patient was in stable condition at the time of transport.
East Main Street was closed in the area of the fire scene for several hours to allow crews to work. Prior to the road reopening Schall requested that salt trucks treat the streets as water had frozen on the roadway.
Although the motel is not equipped with fire sprinklers, crews were able to contain the fire to back section of the building. The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office determined that the building was uninhabitable, as of late Friday night.
Although officers initially detained one person, the cause of the fire is under investigation and no charges have been filed, said Newark Police Spokesman Lt. Andrew Rubin.
Officials said that the American Red Cross is assisting affected guests.
Heavy fire damage is estimated at $100,000.
Newark – Rescue crews from Aetna Hose Hook, And Ladder have responded to the Super 8 Motel on Main Street in Newark for reports of a fire with occupants trapped.
Crews are working to locate the fire in the structure.
Main Street is currently closed to traffic.
Update: Fire has been knocked down.
Trooper 4 has been cleared.
No word on injuries at this time.
Command has ordered the water shut down in the building.
Fire Marshals are on scene investigating.
Main Street to remain closed until salt trucks can treat the roads. Water from the fire trucks has frozen on the roadway.
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