Man accused of causing $51M in damage in New Jersey fire will remain in custody

SOMERVILLE, New Jersey -- A man accused of starting a massive fire in New Jersey went before a judge on Friday, and prosecutors revealed video of the suspect on the day of the fire.

Juan Hector Padilla entered the court in handcuffs Friday morning for his detention hearing that did not go in his favor.

His public defender tried to have him released while he awaits trial for aggravated arson after last Sunday's fire in Bound Brook nearly wiped out an entire block.

Prosecutors presented the evidence from Padilla's Facebook posts days before the blaze.

"Specifically on January 1, 2020 at 4:53 p.m. he said, 'I'm thinking of burning down this building that they put up to (expletive) with my head,'" assistant prosecutor Yoana Yakova said. "On January 4th, 2020 at 4:42 p.m. he said, 'Going to start the fire at 7' and lastly at 3:54 p.m. he said, 'I will burn the world to the ground.'"

Video evidence shows Padilla on the day of the fire, first at a liquor store, then a man prosecutors say is Padilla is shown pacing between the train station and the Meridia 2 building before he walks away as the fire erupts in the rear of the building.

It quickly became an inferno that jumped across the street and destroyed other buildings, including a group home.

One hundred people were evacuated from the area and 36 fire departments raced to the scene to fight the fire.

"This looks like a war zone, not downtown Bound Brook," Yakova said.

In all, officials say there was more than $51 million worth of destruction in the fire.

Judge Kevin Shanihan decided to keep Padilla in custody.

"In this court's opinion, indicates the defendant is a significant danger to the community," Shanihan said.

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