SOMERVILLE, N.J. – A Bound Brook man has been indicted by a Somerset County Grand Jury in connection with the Jan. 12 fire that destroyed two apartment buildings under construction on Main Street, Bound Brook and several adjacent buildings.

Juan Hector Padilla, age 29, of East Second Street faces charges of 2nd Degree Burglary, 2nd Degree Aggravated Arson, 3rd Degree Aggravated Assault (for injury to a firefighter), and 3rd Degree Hindering Apprehension of Oneself, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

The seven-alarm fire that began at the construction site of the Meridia II building on East Main Street was first reported at 7:53 p.m., and raged throughout the night into the early morning of Jan. 13.  The Bound Brook Fire Department, along with thirty-six fire companies from Somerset, Middlesex, Union, Hunterdon and Mercer Counties., as well as the New Jersey State Forestry Service responded.

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Due to radiant heat and wind, the fire spread quickly throughout the building and to adjacent buildings located on Main Street, according to Robertson. A firefighter was injured, suffering a sprained ankle.

Detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, the Bound Brook Police Department, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Fire Investigation Unit, fire officials from Somerset County, and State and Federal investigators collaborated on the fire investigation.

Witnesses told investigators they had seen Padilla walking in the area of the Meridia II building several times leading up to the fire; footage from video surveillance cameras also captured the suspect on film, according to Robertson.

Padilla was arrested Jan. 13 and charged on a criminal complaint with 2nd degree Aggravated Arson and 3rd degree Hindering Investigation Apprehension/False Information. Based on subsequent investigation, the defendant was later charged with Burglary and Aggravated Assault. 

Padilla has been detained at the Somerset County Jail since his arrest.

The indictment was issued Dec. 2.