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Man arrested in deadly Bensonhurst fire insists he's not a monster

New York City fire marshals look through debris

New York City fire marshals look through debris while investigating a fatal fire in Brooklyn early in the morning Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010, New York. The fire engulfed a three-story building on a busy commercial strip injuring several firefighters during the hours it took to get the blaze under control. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

(Photo: AP)

A man busted in the Bensonhurst blaze that killed five allegedly was drunk and claimed evil spirits forced him to commit arson.

But a handcuffed Daniel Ignacio, 27, insisted yesterday that he's not a monster. "I have compassion,” he said as he was taken to booking, according to published reports.

Ignacio, who lives on the second-floor of the burned building, sparked the Saturday fire by soaking toilet paper in paint thinner and leaving it in a baby carriage, police said. He was arrested Tuesday and charged with arson and murder, police said.

Ignacio blamed demons for the deadly act but was later apparently remorseful, helping to rescue 2-year-old Josias Chan, reports said. The toddler was handed out the window to Ignacio by his mother, Luisa Chan, 34, a Guatemalan immigrant who perished.

Police are still seeking a motive, but don’t believe Ignacio intended the blaze to be so big. “The idea that this man had a vendetta is not it. There was something wrong with him and he was drunk,” a police source told the New York Times.

Chan was hailed as a hero after she tossed her other child, 2-month-old sister Maria, out the window to safety. Baby Maria fractured her skull in the fall and was in critical condition Tuesday. She is expected to survive.

The Bensonhurst fire is the city’s deadliest since 2007. A vigil for the victims is reportedly planned for Friday at 7 p.m.

(With AP)

emily.ngo@am-ny.com

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