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Cops: Group home resident charged with arson in mattress fire

Suffolk County police charged a Port Jefferson Station man with arson after they said he set fire to a mattress at his group home on Monday.

Sheldon Whittingham, 38, is being held at the Suffolk County Police Department’s Sixth Precinct. He is scheduled to be arraigned on a second-degree arson charge at First District Court in Central Islip on Tuesday.

Authorities said Whittingham’s charge stems from a fire that broke out shortly before 1:30 p.m. at a congregate care facility on Poplar Street operated by Options for Community Living.

Officer Joanna Westrack responded to a call reporting a house fire at the group home, and found a mattress on fire on the building’s second floor, police said. Westrack used a fire extinguisher to douse the blaze, which by that time had “fully engulfed” the mattress,” police said. No staff or residents from the group home were injured, according to police.

After an investigation, arson detectives said they believed the fire was intentionally set.

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