Man accused of setting massive east Charlotte apartment fire pleads guilty

Man accused of setting massive east Charlotte apartment fire pleads guilty
Lopez (Source: Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office)
(Credit: Charlotte Fire Department)
(Credit: Charlotte Fire Department)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A man accused of setting an east Charlotte apartment on fire last year, injuring 7 and displacing 130, pleaded guilty to 32 counts of first-degree arson Tuesday.

Jesus Reyes Lopez is accused of setting a massive fire at the Woodscape Apartments on Farm Pond Lane in July 2017.

Seven people were rushed to the hospital, three with serious injuries, as firefighters worked to put out the 3-alarm fire.

Tuesday, Lopez was sentenced to between 51 and 74 months in prison. He was also ordered to pay $75,000 restitution to the victims. The fire caused around $1.3 million in damage.

Lopez was identified as a suspect during the investigation.

He was arrested and charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree arson and damage to occupied property/explosive.

A teenager who said she was Lopez's ex-girlfriend told WBTV she believes Lopez set the fire because she ended their relationship and he wanted revenge.

"Like I feel guilty we're all over here at the shelter and all these people lost their homes cause of stupid stuff I guess" she said.

She says she and Lopez dated for a couple of years.

She says at one point after the break-up, Lopez told her "she would see."

The teen says she didn't know what he meant.

"Never thought he would do something like that," she said. "Never imagined."

It took more than 50 Charlotte Fire Department firefighters an hour to put out the heavy flames they encountered when they arrived on scene.

Witnesses said that residents were jumping from their windows to escape the blaze. A family jumped from the third floor, including a four-year-old girl who went down head first, according to neighbors.

The Red Cross says 40 apartment units were damaged. The displaced residents were assisted on scene and Albemarle Road Middle opened a temporary shelter for them.

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