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Hempstead man charged in fire that destroyed home, police say

Bernadino Jocon, 29, of Hempstead was arrested Thursday

Bernadino Jocon, 29, of Hempstead was arrested Thursday and charged with arson and criminal mischief in connection with two fires, police said. Credit: NCPD

A Hempstead man has been charged with starting a fire that destroyed a vacant home Wednesday night in Hempstead, Nassau County police said.

Bernadino Jocon, 29, was arrested on two outstanding warrants after officers saw him near a parking lot fire Thursday night a short distance from the house, police said.

Jocon was arraigned Friday in First District Court in Hempstead on charges of third-degree arson and fourth-degree arson, both felonies, according to online court records. He was held on $10,000 bond or $5,000 cash and the court issued a temporary order of protection against him, records show.

He was seen near a fire by a tire of a 2014 Honda Accord in the parking lot of an auto body shop at 10 Jerusalem Ave. at 9:59 p.m. Thursday, police said.

Another fire had been reported the night before about 9:30 p.m. in a boarded-up house at 30 Jerusalem Ave.

Police said without elaborating that “a subsequent investigation” led them to charge Jocon with setting both fires.

The fire at 30 Jerusalem Ave. was the third fire at the home in the past 12 months, fire marshals said Wednesday night.

“This time it burned to the ground,” said Michael Uttaro, the county’s assistant chief fire marshal.

Hempstead Fire Chief Steve Giardino called the blaze “a particularly dangerous fire” because firefighters arrived to find the vacant home engulfed in flames. The firefighters — more than 60 from about 10 departments — were unable to get into the home because of the amount of fire and had to attack the blaze in a “defensive” manner, or from the outside.

He said the departments were lucky that no one was injured.

“Everybody got home safe,” he said.

Giardino said he hoped the arrest sent a message to any other potential arsonists.

“Anytime an arsonist is caught, we obviously feel relieved,” he said. “We don’t have to worry about that person any longer.”

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