NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – A 26-year-old suspect who police say watched a house burn to the ground early Wednesday morning has been charged with arson after he was seen entering and leaving the uninhabited house at 197 Maple Ave., according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.
Borough resident Jonathan Davies of Dahlia Terrace has been charged with 2nd degree Aggravated Arson and 3rd degree Aggravated Assault and is lodged at the Somerset County Jail pending a detention hearing, Robertson said.
The homes on either side of the residence, which was under construction, were also damaged, with both families displaced. There were no injuries to the families; one firefighter suffered minor injuries and was discharged from an area hospital after treatment.
Robertson said North Plainfield police and firefighters responded to a 2:40 a.m. 911 call reporting the fire, which grew to three alarms
Fire companies from North Plainfield, Bridgewater/Finderne, Bound Brook, Green Brook, Watchung, Warren, Plainfield and South Plainfield responded; emergency medical personnel from North Plainfield, Watchung, Union County Rehab and Dunellen also responded. Somerset County Sheriff’s officers helped North Plainfield police secure the scene.
The investigation revealed a man, later identified as Jonathan Davies, was seen in the area at the time the fire was set and that the suspect was seen leaving and re-entering the property multiple times and watching the fire, according to Robertson.
The Maple Avenue fire was the third residential fire in North Plainfield the past two weeks. Police do not believe Wednesday's fire is linked to two others that occurred on May 12 and May 16, according to Frank Roman, deputy chief of the Somerset Prosecutor's detective division.
On May 12. two residents were injured in a three-alarm fire in a residence on Grove Street, according to Robertson.
Police and fire personnel responded to a 911 call reporting the fire at 11:03 a.m., according to Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of County Detectives John W. Fodor and North Plainfield Chief of Police William Parenti.
The two male residents were transported to an undisclosed trauma center; one was listed in critical condition, according to police.
A multi-alarm residential fire on Willow Avenue May 16 took 60 minutes to control and displaced several families from the multi-family dwelling, according to Parenti.
Police received several 911 calls around 11 a.m. to report the fire.
Responding to the three-alarm fire were fire companies from Somerset North Plainfield, Bridgewater / Finderne, Bound Brook, Green Brook, Watchung and Warren, South Plainfield and Plainfield and Dunellen. Residentss of the building had evacuated before fire personnel arrived and there were no injuries reported.
Robertson requests anyone with information relating to the fire to contact the Somerset County Prosecutors Office Major Crimes Unit at (908) 231-7100 or the North Plainfield Police Department at (908) 769-2937 or via the STOPit app.
The STOPit app allows citizens to provide anonymous reports including videos and photos. STOPit can be downloaded to your smart phone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: SOMERSETNJ.
Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477). All anonymous STOPit reports and Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.