SPARTA,  NJ - A Sparta man, who told police he “torched” his residence on Maple Tree Lane on Jan. 22, was charged with arson, said police.

Police said they were dispatched to the residence for the report of a structure fire at around 5 a.m. At the scene, they spoke with homeowner Michael McQuilkin, they said.

McQuilkin, 76, told officers he set fire to his own home because it was "in such a state of disrepair and he could not afford to make the repairs required by the township," said police.

Sign Up for E-News

The Sparta Fire Department extinguished the fire, but the house was a complete loss.  

The fire caused Stanhope Road to be closed and school buses to be diverted. In some cases the buses were unable to complete all of the pick-ups on their routes. 

McQuilkin was charged with arson and placed in the Sussex County jail in lieu of $7,500 bail.

No injuries were reported from the incident. Sparta Police Officer Scott Elig, Sgt Jeff Mase, Detective Jeff McCarrick and Detective Sgt. Terrence Mulligan investigated. 

Complicating making that morning, cell phone service was interrupted due to  a widespread but unrelated outage.