Family catches stranger setting home on fire


PHOENIX (CNN/KNXV) — A Phoenix homeowner is thankful a witness woke up him up in the middle of the night when his house caught on fire.

He was shocked to find out someone set it ablaze on purpose and was watching it burn from the yard.

The man was caught on camera dumping gasoline on the side of the house, then creeping off. 

“I was sitting out on my friend’s patio and just saw smoke,” witness Jacob White said. “I’m thankful I woke up the family and everything.”

So is Rafael Moreno, the homeowner, who was sleeping inside.

“Imagine if that person wouldn’t have knocked? We probably would’ve died,” Moreno said.

Fortunately, Moreno and five others got out. They then focused on putting the fire out.

After the suspect lit the home on fire, he crept behind a pile of bricks and hid. When Moreno came out, he pepper sprayed him in the eyes, then took off running, where Moreno and friends caught him and pinned him for police.”

“Then we tied his hands and his legs until police arrived,” Moreno said.

42-year-old Jacob Espinoza was arrested. In court documents, he admitted to recently doing heroin.

Moreno says he didn’t know the man and is devastated by what he’s done.

“I’ve been struggling to pay off my house,” Moreno said. “I’ve been working non-stop for the little bit that I have.”

The construction worker will now spend his free time working on his own home. He says he hopes Espinoza spends years in prison.

Moreno says he lost at least $10,000 worth of tools in the fire. That’s in addition to the damage to his home. ​​​​​​​


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