Police: Stamford man intentionally set fire and disabled smoke detectors in family's apartment

People living on the second floor of the home called 911 to report they smelled smoke, according to police.

Marissa Alter

Dec 28, 2022, 10:35 PM

Updated 531 days ago

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A Stamford man is accused of intentionally setting a fire and disabling the smoke detectors in an apartment where he lived with his parents and sister. Police said it happened in a multi-family home on Perry Street around 8:50 a.m. on Dec. 26. They arrested Camilo Vargas-Hernandez, 24, a few hours later and said the alleged behavior also violated court orders.
People living on the second floor of the home called 911 to report they smelled smoke, according to police. They said responding firefighters arrived in minutes and found a mattress on fire in a room on the first floor, which they quickly put out but deemed suspicious.
"There were two smoke alarms that were definitely ripped off the ceiling. One had a battery ripped out of it, and then there was an outlet that looked like it had either a pair of scissors or a knife jammed into it in an attempt to start some sparks and maybe cause a fire that way," said Sgt. Sean Scanlan of the Stamford Police Department. Scanlan is part of the Arson Task Force and was called in along with the fire marshal to investigate. Scanlan said the mattress fire was intentionally set, possibly with a lighter.
Vargas-Hernandez was named as a suspect and seen leaving the neighborhood as firefighters arrived, according to Scanlan. He said Vargas-Hernandez lived with family on the first floor and has a history with the department's Behavioral Health Unit, which addresses and helps people with mental health issues. Scanlan said two partial protective orders were issued in pending cases, which allowed Vargas-Hernandez to still live with his mother and sister but not harm, harass, or threaten them. Vargas-Hernandez' family was not home at the time of the fire, but other people were.
"The second floor was occupied at the time by six people, including minors under 15 which made it even more of a serious crime because God forbid the apartment had gone up, we had young children upstairs as well as adults," Scanlan told News 12.
Vargas-Hernandez was charged with arson, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, risk of injury to a minor, and violating a protective order. He was arraigned at Stamford Superior Court Tuesday where the judge issued three new protective orders, one for each family member who lives in the apartment. His bond was set at $250,000 and a competency evaluation ordered. He's due back in court Jan. 19.
Court records show Vargas-Hernandez has additional pending charges for disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, violation of a protective order, and failure to appear.


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