- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2003

CYPRESS, Calif., Feb. 24 (UPI) — A 33-year-old Southern California man was arrested after he allegedly set off aerial fireworks in the condominium bedroom he was renting, causing $135,000 in damage to the unit and leaving his three housemates homeless.

Luis Martinez Chavez was also charged with drug possession following the bizarre incident that occurred just before dawn on Sunday, the Orange County Register said Monday.

"This guy, by his activities, really jeopardized the safety of the other residents in the unit," Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Miller said. "If it weren't for the sprinklers, they would have lost the unit."

The 50-year-old owner of the condo suffered some minor smoke inhalation from the fire that took some 25 minutes to extinguish. The Register said a sheriff's bomb-disposal team had to be called in to remove the rest of the fireworks cache.

It was not known what prompted Chavez to allegedly ignite the illegal fireworks in the second-story room he rented from the condo's owner. The incident occurred less than a week after an indoor pyrotechnics display touched off a fire in a Rhode Island nightclub that left 97 people dead.

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