NORWICH – According to investigators a man wielding a blowtorch to fend off a cockroach infestation set his apartment on fire and destroyed a Norwich home, resulting in charges of arson and endangerment.
At about 10:30 p.m., on Monday, October 31, members of the Norwich Fire Department, North Norwich Fire Department, the Chenango County Emergency Services and the Norwich Police Department responded to 12 State Street in the City of Norwich and found a fully-involved fire within the residence.
“We are fortunate that no one was injured within the house, and that no firefighters were injured while controlling, and putting the fire out,” reports Detective Sergeant Reuben Roach.
Members of the Norwich Fire Department were able to eventually knock down and extinguish the fire, however the residence is a total loss, reported the Norwich PD.
The Norwich PD conducted an investigation and has arrested one of the renters who had been living at the residence.
Norwich Police Department officials as well as Chenango County Arson Investigators reported Matthew R. Lamb, 38, of Norwich, had admitted to using a blowtorch to kill insects within the residence, and thereby caused the blaze.
First responders said it appeared the home had a cockroach infestation.
Police have charged Lamb with fourth degree arson, a felony, for intentionally setting the fire. He was charged with misdemeanor fourth degree criminal mischief for destruction of property; and second degree reckless endangerment for endangering the safety of other residents.
Citing 2020 reforms to bail laws in New York State that included arson, police said Lamb was released on an appearance ticket and will appear in court at a later date.