Police: Mesa man starts fire, then sits inside burning home

Police: Mesa man starts fire, then sits inside burning home
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A Mesa man is accused of setting his home on fire and then sitting inside.

Police report that on May 3, around 3:30 a.m., they responded to a home on fire near Gilbert and Broadway roads.

A neighbor contacted authorities while attempting to alert the homeowner that a nearby shed was on fire and spreading to his home. After pounding on the screen door, the neighbor threw a brick through a window on one side of the home to warn the homeowner about the fire. 

On the other side of the home, an officer found 53-year-old James Robert Hemberger sitting on a chair inside the house. The officer broke out a window and yelled at Hemberger to come out. Instead, he reportedly yelled back at the officer, threw a stool toward the window and sat back down. The officer asked Hemberger if he started the fire, to which he responded, "Yep."

The officer then went to make sure neighbors were safely out of their homes. After a few moments, he heard Hemberger call out for help and he assisted him after Hemberger climbed out the window.

Arson investigators found accelerant in several areas including the shed, carport and inside the home. Officers also allegedly found methamphetamine and heroin inside the home.

Hemberger is being held on a $100,000 bond and has been charged with arson, drug possession and multiple counts of endangerment.