Members of the U.S. Marshals Service on Wednesday arrested a man who was wanted for arson following fires and the discovery of more than 150 milk jugs full of gasoline in an abandoned West Philadelphia home last month.
Darren Arnold, 37, was wanted in relation to multiple fires that happened on the 100 block of North 59th Street in August, the Marshals Service said. Police last month discovered 154 one-gallon milk jugs stashed on the first floor of an abandoned, partially burned home on the same block.
Investigators found the jugs Aug. 1 after police received a 911 call for a strong smell of gasoline coming from inside the residence. At the time, police called the incident very dangerous" and "very bizarre." Firefighters said that all of the gas jugs had been removed shortly after their discovery.
The next day, a fire broke out at the rowhome. It was unclear what caused the flames to begin. Firefighters had the fire under, but a family of seven were forced to evacuate because of the blaze. Two other adjacent rowhomes were also being investigated for fire damage.
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On Aug. 7, neighbors reported another fire at the house, after which police asked the public for help locating Arnold, who was wanted on suspicion of arson and related charges following the blazes.
Neighbors said the man whose mother owns the house was standing outside the home Aug. 1 drinking a beer. The mother, neighbors said, was in a nursing home. The man was questioned by police the night the gasoline was found in the home, according to officials.
The man was spotted in the area by neighbors again early on the morning of Aug. 7, they said, shortly after the second fire in the back of the rowhome. The man used to live in the house before it first caught fire in March of this year, police said. It has been vacant since then.
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Members of the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force arrested Arnold on the 1000 block of Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia after learning he was in the area. After surveilling the area, they arrested Arnold without incident, the Marshals Service said.
It was not immediately clear whether Arnold had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.