NEW YORK – Police arrested a man Tuesday who they say told investigators he was drunk when he set a blaze that killed five Guatemalan immigrants by using paint thinner to light a roll of toilet paper in a baby carriage near the front door.
Daniel Ignacio, 27, was charged with arson and five counts of murder, police spokesman Paul J. Browne said. Ignacio was a resident of the building that burned down Saturday on a busy commercial strip in Brooklyn; the name of his lawyer was not yet on record.
Investigators were looking at several possible motives, Browne said. The suspect told investigators he went upstairs and slept as flames erupted near the front door of the building, which housed a restaurant on its ground floor and apartments upstairs.
The fire early Saturday was the city's deadliest since a 2007 fire killed 10 people in the Bronx. Four men and a woman, all Guatemalan immigrants, died in the Brooklyn blaze.
Luisa Chan, the only victim identified so far, and her husband, Miguel, who escaped, tried to lower their 2-month-old daughter, Maria, out of a window in a car seat, but the baby fell out and suffered a fractured skull. She remained in critical condition but was expected to survive.
The families of the other victims had not been officially notified.
Flames quickly engulfed the three-story building, consuming the Japanese restaurant on the ground floor and two apartments on the upper floors. The stairwell between the floors collapsed, as well as part of the roof, trapping residents.
As many as 20 people lived in the building, which did not have adequate smoke detectors, officials said.