Angry Woman Set Huge Paterson Fire That Displaced 60 By Lighting Paper Towels, Indictment Says

UPDATE: A woman deliberately set a fire last summer that roared through a string of attached mixed-use buildings in Paterson -- displacing 60 residents and injuring four firefighters – during an argument with a tenant, authorities charged.

Yanit Valdez
Yanit Valdez Photo Credit: INSET: Passaic County Prosecutor / CBS2 New York

Authorities didn’t suggest a possible motive when they announced that detectives had arrested Yanit Valdez, 38, of Manhattan 10 days after the massive Aug. 3 fire on Cianci Street.

However, an indictment returned by a grand jury in Paterson this week accuses Valdez of lighting paper towels on a couch to settle an argument in an upper-floor apartment.

Flames quickly spread through the cockloft, blew through the roof and jumped from building to building. Hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze for hours.

When they finally were done, 20 families had been displaced, several firefighters were hospitalized and half a city block was destroyed, authorities said.

Authorities haven't identified the relationship between Valdez, who has remained in the Passaic County Jail since her arrest, and the tenant she was arguing with.

A first appearance in Central Judicial Processing Court in Paterson will be scheduled on the indictment, which charges Valdez with arson, aggravated assault and causing widespread injury.


ALSO SEE: Firefighters battled a Tuesday afternoon blaze that blew through the roof of a Passaic home.


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