West Bronx man indicted for setting Riverdale apartment building on fire

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A Bronx man was indicted Thursday on first-degree arson and additional charges, for intentionally setting an apartment building ablaze in Riverdale, critically injuring three people.

The victims were in the hospital on a ventilator because of smoke inhalation and one required skin grafts.

“The defendant allegedly started a fire in a five-story building he lived in, not caring about the danger to dozens of his neighbors,” said District Attorney Darcel Clark. “The victims are still suffering terrible physical and emotional pain because of the defendant’s alleged barbaric actions.”

According to the investigation, at approximately 9 a.m., on March 6, the defendant, Albert Blease, 48, of 215 West 242 nd Street, who lived on the first floor, set gasoline cans on fire in his apartment. First responders nearby were alerted and saw Blease’s apartment on fire and went inside. They saw Blease with a machete and two gas cans in the doorway.

The fire traveled to the apartment located above his home, injuring Damarys Molina, 59 and Carlos Matias, 37. Molina sustained lung damage and burn injuries. She received three skin grafts and was on a ventilator for a month.

Blease’s next door neighbor, Joshua Pizarro, 31, who went back into the building to alert neighbors about the flames and urged them to run to safety, was also injured. Pizarro and Matias were put on a ventilator after sustaining lung damage due to smoke inhalation.

Blease was arraigned on first, second and third-degree arson, six counts of first-degree assault, six counts of second-degree assault, second and third-degree criminal mischief, first and second-degree reckless endangerment and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He was released and is due back in court March 18, 2021.