He called 911 about house fire but investigators determine he set the blaze

Eric Martinez is accused of setting fire to his mother's home, but had called 911 to report it, police say. (WPLG)

MIAMI, Fla. – A man who called 911 from his cell phone to report a Miami house fire is under arrest and charged with first-degree arson. Investigators said that Eric Javier Martinez, 33, set his mother’s Miami home on fire after getting into a fight with his brother.

According to investigators, at 3:59 a.m. on Wednesday, June 22, Martinez, who was identified on an arrest form as being homeless, called to say that a home was on fire in the 9300 block of Southwest 6th Terrace.

Miami-Dade police reported that they had been to the home the day before after a neighbor called to say that the man, later identified as Martinez, “lived alone” and was heard tearing up the residence and breaking glass and they were “worried for his well-being.”

When police arrived and spoke to Martinez, he said he was the homeowner. He had destroyed granite stone kitchen counters, the rear sliding glass door and the front door, which eventually was assessed at $30,000 in damage. He told them he was upset and took out his frustration on what they believed, at the time, was his home.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue had responded to the Wednesday home fire and the arson squad investigated. They determined that the fire originated in a bedroom. Arson investigators reported that they found a claw hammer and, on top of the bed, there was a torch, a lighter, and two glass pipes with residue.

After the 911 call, police responded and had seen Martinez walking in an alleyway. They transported him for questioning.

He told them that the home was his mother’s, which she lets him use when it isn’t being rented. He said that he and his brother had an argument and got into a fist fight. He told police the fire started in a plastic bin containing cardboard and lightbulbs. Arson investigators determined that to not be the case. Video evidence also contradicted his statement that he had not exited the front door during the fire.

Martinez is charged with first-degree arson, criminal mischief, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.