(Buford, GA., July 26, 2017) – Gwinnett Fire Investigators have charged Nicholas Minardi, age-21 of Buford, with intentionally setting two vehicles ablaze at the Buford Superior Self Storage, located at 1600 French Boulevard, NE in Buford. 

Firefighters responded to the blaze on Sunday, July 23, 2017 around 7:22 p.m.  The onsite property manager called 9-1-1 after hearing a popping sound and going outside to find a vehicle on fire next to the building.  Crews arrived to find smoke and flames showing from one of the vehicles, as well as two storage units in the center of a multi-unit storage facility.  They also discovered a second vehicle on fire on the opposite end of the complex.  Both fires caused extensive damage to the vehicles and to contents in two adjoining storage units.  Firefighters had to open up several other storage units within the building to check for fire extension.

Fire Investigators were able to identify Minardi through video surveillance footage obtained from the business.  The property manager told Fire Investigators Monday morning, that the vehicle in the footage was not familiar to her at the time.  In a strange twist, Minardi actually returned to the scene Monday evening under the guise that he was checking on his girlfriend’s property to see if it was ok.  He claimed that he heard about the fire in the news, which wasn’t true based on the fact that the fire department had not yet issued a media release about the incident.  The manager was able to obtain a tag number, which ultimately helped to identify Minardi. 

Fire Investigators took Minardi into custody at his home late Tuesday afternoon.  He is currently booked at the Gwinnett County Detention Center without bond.  The charges brought by Fire Investigators include: 2-counts of second-degree arson, 2-counts of criminal trespass, and 1-count each of criminal damage to property, entering auto and possession of tools for the commission of a crime.

According to Fire Investigators, Minardi unlawfully entered the property with the intent to commit theft and cause damage to property.  He gained access to a van and stole loose change, but did not set the van on fire.  He did intentionally set fire to a car that was parked in close proximity to the back of a storage building, as well as a second car that was on the other side of the property.  Radiant heat from the first vehicle caused the fire to spread to the building.  Fire Investigators took samples from the scene for lab testing, but have not yet confirmed whether an accelerant was used.  Minardi’s vehicle is seen in the surveillance footage leaving the property around 7:11 p.m.  Through subsequent investigation and upon interviewing Minardi, Fire Investigators secured warrants for five felonies and two misdemeanors.  “Fortunately there were no injuries reported due to these senseless acts,” said Gwinnett Fire Captain Tommy Rutledge.

The arson charge alone is a serious felony crime and is punishable by imprisonment and associated fines.  Prevent the crime of arson by implementing appropriate security measures and staying alert to your surroundings. 

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