Bound Brook man charged with arson in massive fire that destroyed multiple buildings

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A Bound Brook man is facing arson charges after authorities say he caused a fire that destroyed multiple buildings in the town’s downtown, displacing dozens of area residents.

Juan Hector Padilla, 28, was also charged Monday with hindering apprehension and providing false information.

The fire started in the Meridia apartment complex, which was under construction at the time. The fire quickly spread to a boarding house next door, as well as at least three other buildings across the street. This includes a second apartment complex that was also still under construction.

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Several residents were displaced because of damage to their homes from the fire and dozens more were evacuated as a precaution while demolition begins on the buildings that were destroyed.

Investigators say that Padilla was seen walking near the construction site shortly before the fire broke out late Sunday night.

RELATED: Cleanup begins after massive fire severely damages buildings in Bound Brook 
RELATED: Massive apartment fire not the first time Bound Brook has faced hardships 

“The investigation is ongoing - like any successful law enforcement investigation it was a result of collaboration but we'd ask the public, if they saw anything - or have video, iPhone video - please contact the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office and provide that information,” says Prosecutor Michael Robertson.

The mayor of Bound Brook also announced Tuesday that the developers of both apartment complexes that were under construction say that they do play to rebuild as soon as possible.

Mayor Robert Fazen says that the community has really come together in the wake of the fire – offering to help those who are displaced. A donation drive is in the process of being organized.

Meanwhile, Padilla is being held at the Somerset County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Neighbors tell News 12 New Jersey that they know of the suspect and that his social media pages are filled with disturbing rants.

"We used to see this guy walking up and down, causing a menace to the streets. Never a positive attitude," says Bound Brook resident Thomas Solter.

News 12 has not been able to independently confirm Facebook posts cited by neighbors were in fact made by Padilla.

Authorities say that additional charges against Padilla may be pending.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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