A Chantilly man is facing as much as life in prison after being arrested and charged with causing a fire that resulted in an estimated $75,000 in damages to the Chantilly townhouse where he lived. He is Louis A. Garay, 31, 13858 Beaujolais Court in the Brookside community, and the fire occurred Sunday morning, April 20.
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department spokesman Dan Schmidt says Garay did not own the residence. Two adult occupants evacuated the home prior to firefighters arriving, but Schmidt did not know what, if any, relationship Garay has to them.
Firefighters from Chantilly's fire station 15 responded around 8:30 a.m., with first arriving units reporting smoke showing from the upper level of the townhouse. They discovered flames in one of the bedrooms and were able to extinguish them, confining the blaze to that room.
No injuries were reported, and the American Red Cross is assisting the home's occupants. Fire investigators subsequently charged Garay with two felony counts — burning a dwelling, which is punishable by 20 years to life in prison, and intentionally setting a fire capable of spreading. The latter charge carries a penalty of up to five years behind bars.
Schmidt said he could not reveal by what means the fire was allegedly set, nor what specific item in the home burned first. This information, he explained, is part of the fire department's investigation.
Meanwhile, while things are hot for Garay in this county, he's currently cooling his heels in the Shenandoah County Jail in Woodstock, Va. He was arrested there later in the day of the townhouse fire.
Sgt. Earl Smith of the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that Garay is currently being held there without bond after being charged with a felony and two misdemeanors. However, there, he's also known under a different name.
"He was arrested under the name 'Jose Flores,'" said Smith. "A Virginia State trooper picked him up, and he was incarcerated [Sunday] evening. He was charged with being drunk in public, possession of stolen property and driving on a suspended license."
Garay (AKA Flores) has a mid-May court appearance scheduled in Woodstock, but Smith said there's a possibility he may first be returned to Fairfax County to answer to his even more-serious charges here.