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Police Arrest Arson Suspect In Merrick Sunday

Merrick Fire (credit: Paul DeMARIA / Merrick Fire Dept)

Merrick Fire (credit: Paul DeMARIA / Merrick Fire Dept)

MERRICK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An alleged home intruder will be arraigned Monday in Hempstead for, police say, breaking into a house on Long Island and causing extensive fire damage.

Investigators say 23-year-old George Diamond of Brentwood entered the garage of a couple he never met, lit a match, and set fire to papers around 5:30 a.m.

The flames gutted the garage, spread throughout the home on West Loines Avenue, melted siding, and burned an SUV.

Police say as the fire grew, Diamond left the scene and ran towards a backyard on Miller Place, wearing only shorts, a t-shirt and socks. They were able to arrest him without further incident.

The couple inside managed to escape the heavy smoke and flames. More than 100 firefighters from five departments responded, one team able to rescue the family dog.

CBS 2’s Dave Carlin spoke with residents in the area.

“The door of the garage was on fire and it was pretty small and within minutes it engulfed the side of the garage,” neighbor Curtis Tripoli said.

“I just can’t believe it that somebody comes in somebody’s home and do this to their home. That’s unbelievable,” said resident Patrick Powers.

Diamond is being charged with Arson 2nd Degree and Burglary 2nd Degree.

“Well at least they got out okay,” said resident Davina Klatsky.

One neighbor is credited with helping investigators catch the suspect.

“Apparently the person who started the fire jumped the fence to flee and he kind of called police and confronted him in his yard and scared him back over the fence to the scene of the crime and that’s where they grabbed him,” Tripoli said.

“I’m sure the community will pull together and everybody in the community will help these people,” said resident Mary Powers.

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