Investigators arrested a North Carolina man after witnesses said he lit a truck on fire with a Homestead man inside.
James Stuart Collins will be charged with two second-degree felony counts of arson and attempted second-degree murder, according to Becky Herrin, spokeswoman for Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
Jose Gonzales, 52 of Homestead was in the cab of his work truck in Marathon early Friday morning when it exploded. Gonzales was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center in Miami with second and third degree burns over 61 percent of his body.
Gonzales, who worked for Homestead-based Florida Paving and Trucking Inc., was either sleeping or resting in his truck parked near JJ’s Dog House Bar, 10700 Overseas Highway.
The two men argued in the bar, possibly about a woman, just before the fire.
At 3:45 a.m., the sheriff’s office got a call about the fire. The caller said he also was evacuating the bar. Several explosions were reported. The truck had a generator on board, as well as a tank of diesel fuel.
Witnesses said Collins started the fire by tipping over a gas can and lighting the fuel, according to major crimes Det. Manny Cuervo in a report.
Collins, 28, of Jamestown, NC, was arrested after he returned to the scene while the investigation was going on, according to Herrin.
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