Police Arrest Man Who Allegedly Set 15 Trash Cans on Fire

The suspect, initially believed to be a woman in her 50s, lit all the cans ablaze in about one hour.

Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012  |  Updated 7:47 AM EDT
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A man who led authorities on a wild chase through Manhattan as they rushed to put out the 15 trash-can fires he set in the area Monday has been arrested, officials said.      

The suspect, initially believed to be a woman in her 50s, lit all the cans ablaze in about one hour.

FDNY fire marshals said Armondo Calderon, 56, is a homeless man who lives around Penn Station. He's accused of setting 15 fires in total.

The first fire was in front of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street at about 3 p.m. At about the same time, authorities received a 911 call about a trash can fire a block away on Madison Avenue.      

Reports about more trash can fires followed in rapid succession, according to The New York Times. They were between Fifth and Lexington avenues and 41st and 45th streets. Calderon ducked underground to light two fires in the Grand Central subway station before resurfacing, the Times reported.     

The fire department used three engines and two trucks to put out the small fires, which melted the plastic garbage bins.

Dave Sinclair, an airport bus service employee, told the Times he saw the suspect on Madison Avenue. He described the suspect as a woman about 5 feet tall, wearing a black jacket, brown pants and a brown hat. 

Sinclair told the Times the suspect had a little shopping cart with the suspect strolled up the sidewalk, leaving a trail of blazing trash cans behind.

A fire department chief said authorities are investigating whether the suspect may be connected to similar fires set in midtown a few weeks ago. 

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