PATERSON, NJ - A 37-year-old Paterson woman was arrested and charged in connection with a four-alarm blaze on Aug. 3 that damaged nearly two dozen apartments, displaced 60 residents and left four firefighters injured, authorities said.
Following an investigation into the fire on Cianci Street, Yanit Valdez was taken into custody Thursday and charged with two counts of aggravated arson, a second-degree crime, and four counts of aggravated assault, a third-degree crime, according to a joint press release from the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, Paterson Police Department and Paterson Fire Department.
Shortly after 1 p.m. on Aug. 3, police and firefighters were called to 40 Cianci Street after receiving a report of a fire at the multi-unit apartment building, authorities said.
Upon arrival at the scene, first responders found the flames had spread throughout the structure, damaging not only 19 apartments, but also several ground-floor businesses. With assistance from Passaic and Clifton fire departments, crews spent several hours bringing the fire under control.
All occupants were able to safely evacuate, but four Paterson firefighters were taken to St. Joseph’s Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries, authorities said.
Fundraising efforts are underway to assist the residents affected by the fire. As of Thursday night, a GoFundMe page has collected $3,253 towards its goal of $10,000.
Valdez is scheduled to appear Friday in Central Judicial Processing Court, according to the prosecutor’s office.
She faces five to 10 years in state prison for the aggravated arson charges and would be required to serve 85% of the term before being eligible for parole, the prosecutor’s office said. The aggravated assault charges carry a prison term of between three to five years.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office tips line at 1-877-370-PCPO or the Paterson Police Department at 973-321-1111.