OGDEN, Utah, July 12, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — An Ogden man has been charged with first-degree felony arson in connection with the Friday fire at an apartment building from which he had just been evicted.
Mariano Hernandez, 43, is being held without bail at the Weber County Jail.
Ogden City Police and fire officials responded to the scene, at 949 S. Washington Blvd., No. 11, after the fire was reported at 11:40 a.m.
“When firefighters responded to the scene they noted the front door was deadbolted, and the front window (only window) was intact,” says a probable cause statement filed by an officer of the Ogden City Police Department.
“The complainant reported he could see smoke coming from the apartment, and observed the evicted tenant, Mariano Hernandez, leaving the scene,” the statement says.
The complainant described the clothing Hernandez had been wearing. About nine minutes after the fire was called in, Hernandez, dressed in clothing matching the witness’ description, was located a few blocks away, near 300 E. 12th St. Hernandez had with him a suitcase and backpack, the statement says.
Post Miranda, Hernandez consented to an interview, the probable cause statement says.
“Mariano stated the last time he had been at the apartments (949 S. Washington Blvd.) was last night due to him being evicted. Mariano provided consent to search his suitcase and backpack. A butane torch-style lighter was located in one of the bags. A set of house
keys were also located.
“Mariano further stated he had not been in the area of the apartments today (Friday), but then later changed his story and said he had been at Area 51 (911 Washington Blvd.) when the fire occurred.”
An employee at Area 51 later told officers Hernandez had not been in the store that day, the affidavit says.
Hernandez was transported to the apartment scene, and the keys located in his property were used to open his former apartment door, including the deadbolt.
“Your affiant determined the fire was set in the apartment prior to it being secured with the key that was in Mariano’s possession,” the police statement says. “The fire marshal responded to the scene and determined the fire started on the coffee table in the living room. The apartment is no longer structurally sound. Due to the fire prevention methods, the ignition source is still under investigation.”
Surveillance was obtained from a business near the fire site.
“The suspect was observed walking south from the apartments on the video just prior to the complainant reporting the fire to dispatch,” the statement says.
“Based on the aforementioned information your Affiant believes the suspect, Mariano, was the sole occupant of the apartment and the fire was intentionally set prior to him leaving the scene.”