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Man charged with arson after allegedly setting fire inside Fort Lauderdale motel

Authorities have charged a man with arson after first responders were called to a Fort Lauderdale motel over the weekend.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Authorities have charged a man with arson after first responders were called to a Fort Lauderdale motel over the weekend.

According to police, 44-year-old Martin Kendall was arrested and charged with first-degree arson of an occupied building.

First responders said they were called to the Bali Hai Motel at approximately 3 a.m. Saturday and upon arrival, found smoke billowing out of the building.

While walking through the building to evacuate guests and employees, officers were alerted to a man that was trapped.

Bodycam video showed the flames shooting out the back of the building as officers continued searching for the man, but at first, the smoke was too thick to see him.

Eventually, firefighters were able to spot Kendall sitting on the ground outside his room. He said he was having knee pain, so a first responder threw him over his shoulder and carried Kendall to safety.

Police investigate the cause of a fire at the Bali Hai Motel in Fort Lauderdale. (WPLG)

Kendall was hospitalized for his injuries and one officer was treated on scene for smoke inhalation.

Eventually, the arson investigation led them back to Kendall as the one who set the fire in the first place.

“The investigation was able to determine that the fire started near the bed and a torch lighter was found that was later determined to be the cause of the fire,” said Fort Lauderdale Police Det. Ali Adamson. “Witnesses on scene reported hearing him say ‘let it burn’ multiple times so that was another indicator that was something more intentional.”

In the bodycam video, Kendall can be heard telling officers he doesn’t want to leave even though they keep trying to get him to safety.

As for a motive, to this point one is still unclear.


About the Author:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.