PD: Phoenix man started arson fire that endangered 50+ people

Posted: Updated:
Saul Lazaro Resendez (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Saul Lazaro Resendez (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Source: Arizona Dept. of Transportation) Source: Arizona Dept. of Transportation)
(Source: Phoenix Fire Department) (Source: Phoenix Fire Department)
Saul Lazaro Resendez (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Saul Lazaro Resendez (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

A Phoenix man is facing a list of felony charges in connection with an arson fire that put half a dozen residents and about 50 firefighters in danger.

Police arrested Saul Lazaro Resendez just before 2 a.m. on Saturday, May 19, 2018.

The fire happened less than 48 hours earlier in the area of 21st Avenue and Madison street.

The Phoenix Fire Department said the fire started in a guest house behind a two-story multi-resident building.

[ORIGINAL STORY: Live power lines made Phoenix fire even more dangerous]

"Firefighters had to navigate through a large amount of debris to get to the guest house," Capt. Larry Subervi explained in an email to Arizona's Family. "Simultaneously additional fire crews made access to the alley behind the house."

The already dangerous situation was made more hazardous when flames burned through live power lines as it spread to a nearby commercial building that houses steel and other metal products.

Court documents state that Resendez has a “violent extensive criminal history,” as well as convictions for drunk driving and marijuana possession. Police also said he has failed to appear in court on “multiple” occasions.

A witness told police she saw Resendez “light trash in the alley …using a torch style lighter,” the arresting officer wrote in the probable cause statement.

The fire spread to the guest house and then to the commercial building.

No injuries were reported.

According to police, Resendez was seen running from the area by neighbors and residents.

He reportedly was yelling, “Thats (sic) what you get bitch.”

At this point, detectives have not said what motive Resendez might have had or at whom those words might have been directed.

[MUGSHOT: Saul Lazaro Resendez]

Police said surveillance video “shows Resendez entering the property and leaving the property at the time of the fire.”

The surveillance video came from a man who said he’d had “previous encounters” with Resendez, whom he knows through a mutual friend.

Police say his cameras recorded Resendez smashing a brake light on his vehicle on May 1, more than two weeks before the fire.

Resendez is facing a charge of misdemeanor criminal damage in connection with that incident. That’s on top of the arson charge and five counts of endangerment.

A judge set a cash-only appearance bond in the amount of $50,000.

Resendez is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, May 29.

[PDF: Court documents for Saul Lazaro Resendez]

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