NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven police arrested a suspected arsonist who they believe set a residential fire that displaced 20 residents on Friday.
The incident began on Jan. 27, when the New Haven Fire Department responded to a residential fire on Bishop Street. Upon arrival, crews saw heavy smoke coming from the second floor of the home and found a large blaze in the basement.
Fire crews acted quickly and were able to extinguish the fire. No injuries resulted from the flames, but 20 residents were displaced from the building due to smoke and water damage.
New Haven police located surveillance footage after the fire was put out that showed a man had started the fire. A suspect wearing a grey hooded jacket, dark-colored pants, white sneakers, and a black Puma backpack had used a green lighter to ignite a crate full of papers, according to police.
While officers spoke to local residents about the incident, an officer said he spotted the suspect nearby watching the events unfold.
The suspect was dressed in the same clothing seen on the surveillance tape, carrying the same Puma backpack. Officers detained the suspect, who was later identified as 22-year-old Ryan Bowser.
Police said when they searched Bowser, he was carrying the green lighter in his pants pocket.
While he was detained, officers said that Bowser damaged the back seat of a police cruiser and destroyed the dash camera, causing over $1,500 worth of damage.
Bowser has been charged with arson in the first degree, reckless endangerment in the first degree, and criminal mischief in the first degree.