NJ Building Owner, Employee Arrested in Warehouse Blaze

The owner and his employee cut off the emergency sprinkler system, prosecutors say

Authorities have arrested a building owner and his employee in a five-alarm warehouse fire in New Jersey that destroyed three businesses, closed local schools and kept firefighters on the scene for days in February. 

Mark Leonardis, 57, of Weekhawken, and employee Mario Lora, 66, of Passaic, were charged with causing widespread damage in the Feb. 5 fire on George Street in Paterson.

Prosecutors said the two shut down the emergency sprinkler system by cutting the valve chain, preventing its activation in the five-day long fire. 

Attorney information for Leonardis and Lora were not immediately available. 

The building was a city block long, and housed a business on each of its three floors. The structure was destroyed, displacing all the businesses, and the fire forced the closures of local schools, prosecutors say. Two firefighters were also injured. 

It's not clear what sparked the fire.

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