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Long Island woman arrested for sparking massive fire that killed 75-year-old man

2019-09-21

Detectives arrested a 54-year-old Long Island woman accused of sparking a massive house fire that killed a senior citizen, officials said Saturday.

Nassau County police arrested Long Beach resident Jennifer Gross for the deadly Nov. 20, 2018 blaze that tore through 300 Centre Island Drive in Centre Island.

First responders found 75-year-old James Coppola dead in the burning home, officials said. Coppola lived in Howard Beach, Queens, but often stayed at the home with different family members, especially during the summer, officials told Newsday.

Detectives arrested Gross on Friday, charging her with murder and arson. Her arraignment at Hempstead criminal court was pending Saturday.

Members from nine different volunteer fire departments pitched in to put out the blaze the night of the fire 10 months ago.

When the fire was brought under control, Coppola was found dead in a doorway near the front of the house.

Cops did not immediately disclose why Gross set the fire, although detectives immediately suspected arson because of its intensity and the fact that the fire started in the middle of the home.

“It’s not in an area of the house, such as the kitchen, that would be able to fuel that fire to make it that intense.” Nassau County Police Department Homicide Squad Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said at a press conference following the blaze. "The intensity of the fire is what’s concerning to us.”