Police Arrest Man who Set Fire that Left 90 People Homeless 30 Years Ago

NEWARK -- An arsonist who set a fire that killed a woman and left 90 people homeless 30 years ago, was again arrested by Newark Police and charged with burning down at least one vacant property, Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose announced yesterday.

Officials say, Nathaniel Mickens, 56, was arrested at his home on Wednesday and charged with second-degree aggravated arson, one month after his son was murdered on a Newark street.

Ambrose credited the Public Safety Fire Division arson squad and Police Division detectives for the arrest.

“We’ve had a rash of fires in vacant buildings recently,” Ambrose said. “These purposely set fires put our firefighters and the neighboring community at tremendous risk.”

Ambrose said the investigation into those fires continues.

Police arrested Mickens for a fire that took place on April 16, on the 500 block of 13th Avenue. Witnesses placed him at the scene, as did surveillance cameras leading to a warrant for his arrests.

Mickens had two previous arson arrests in the 1980s. One fire claimed the life of his landlady, Emma Jean Thomas, who had evicted him a day earlier. As the fire spread, other apartments and homes were engulfed, leaving 90 people homeless.