PHOTO: Investigators have arrested a man who they believe intentionally set three fires last Thursday morning in Ozone Park, including this one on the Woodhaven Boulevard service road near 94th Street. Forum Photo by Michael V. Cusenza
By Michael V. Cusenza
An alleged arsonist has been cooling his heels on Rikers Island for the past week, unable to post the $250,000 bail after investigators nabbed him for allegedly intentionally setting at least two fires in Ozone Park last Thursday, according to court documents and published reports.
FDNY fire marshals and city cops believe that Sal Manzela, 55, is responsible for sparking three borough blazes early that morning. He’s expected to be charged for the third one.
Cops actually caught up to Manzella outside the 92nd Street scene of one of his alleged infernos. According to published reports, he allegedly claimed to be a witness, admonishing authorities to look for a man in a white van who tossed a homemade firebomb at the Ozone Park house shortly after midnight last Thursday.
Investigators took Manzella’s statement and were later dispatched to a blaze around 4 a.m. on 103rd Avenue. However security camera footage showed a man – who cops were convinced was Manzella – dousing the porch of the house with a liquid and then lighting up the residence.
Police doubled back to the 92nd Street scene and eventually collared Manzella shortly before 7 a.m. the same day.
According to the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, most arsonists are men, “although the proportion of female arsonists is increasing.” Additionally, the Journal indicated that “arson offenders are often unmarried, poorly educated, living alone, and unemployed. They also are more socially isolated and introverted, less physically attractive, and less assertive than are other mentally disordered offenders. Most arsonists have criminal histories before an arson arrest. However, most arson arrestees do not have prior arson convictions or a known history of firesetting.”