UNION, NJ – Police have arrested the Union man who they say intentionally started a gas leak in his home prior to eviction by the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
The home, at 444 Stratford Road, is owned by Carole Siebenlist. According to a police source, Siebenlist was in Overlook Hospital for cancer treatment and passed away on Thursday. Earlier that day, Union County Sheriff officers arrived at the home to serve an eviction notice.
Siebenlist’s son, Steven, has been charged in the case. According to police officials, Sheriff’s officers had been working with Steven Siebenlist regarding the eviction and had contacted both Social Services and the Division of Aging in attempts to find alternative housing for both residents.
“We have been working with these residents since April, trying to locate alternative housing and social service needs, including conversations earlier this week,” said Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan. “That said, we are glad no one was hurt today.”
According to police officials, Siebenlist has been charged with causing or risking widespread injury or damage and aggravated arson. He was released on a summons to the care of his sister.
When officers arrived at the home Thursday morning to serve the eviction, no one answered the front door. When they went around to the back, they smelled a strong gas odor, noticed the gas meter gauge spinning, and heard a hissing sound.
Union police and fire departments arrived on the scene and firefighters turned off the gas from the outside meter and police made entry into the home. Union Police Director Daniel Zieser said police found five lit candles in the basement.
"We were extremely lucky today,” said Zieser. “The sheriff's officers, thank God, were in the right place at the right time. Combined with the swift response of the Fire Department, a tragedy was averted.”
No injuries were reported in the incident.