Store employee puts out fire, captures suspected arsonist

Posted at 5:33 PM, Apr 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-10 17:33:45-04

A supermarket employee is being credited for putting out a fire outside of the Mega Supermarket on Nebraska Avenue, then capturing the man who started it the very next day.

Police arrested 63-year-old Ruben Alvarez on Arson charges Sunday.

"I came out to see what's going on. When I opened the door, I see flames all over the place," Abdalla Abdalla, the store's assistant manager, said. "We received a phone call that there was a fire in the back, I think from a neighbor."

Surveillance footage from the supermarket captured the entire event, as several pallets of cardboard went up in flames. Abdalla is seen running in and out of the store carrying several fire extinguishers and grabbing a hose to put out the blaze.

"When I went back to get the fire extinguisher another bale was on fire.I blew out that one and went to get another fire extinguisher and all four bales were on fire," he said."I went through at least 4 fire extinguishers."

The video also shows what started the fire. Ten minutes before Abdalla found the flames, a man is seen walking up to the cardboard and apparently setting it on fire. Abdalla says he instantly recognized him as Alvarez.

"He's just the neighborhood guy that stands outside, drinks some beers and stuff, but never saw this coming," he said.

Abdalla says he found Alvarez in front of the store the very next day and asked him to come inside. He took Alvarez into the office, called police and held Alvarez in the store until officers arrived.

Police say Alvarez admitted to setting the fire with matches, but wouldn't say why he did it.

The fire caused about $1,000 in damage to the exterior of the building.