Gwinnett man charged with arson of former home

A Gwinnett County man is facing arson and other charges in connection with an August fire at his former home, authorities said.

Gary Mele, 24, of Lilburn, also has been charged with 11 counts of obstruction of firefighters, Gwinnett Fire Department spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge said Wednesday. Mele also has been charged with first-degree burglary.

About 1 p.m. on Aug. 22, firefighters responded to the 4100 block of Nichols Court Southwest in unincorporated Lilburn, Rutledge said. The home was vacant at the time.

Evidence of more than one intentionally set fire was found in the home, along with apparent barriers that hampered initial firefighting efforts, Rutledge said.

“Mele’s actions placed fire crews in increased danger as they made entry to conduct a primary search and battle the blaze,” Rutledge said. Information about how the fires were set or obstacles met by firefighters was not released, as the investigation is ongoing.

Mele and his family were no longer in possession of the house, based on a writ of possession in effect at the time of the fire, Rutledge said. The home is owned by a mortgage company, and Mele had no authority to be on the property.

Mele is in the Gwinnett County jail without bond.

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