DULUTH, Minn. (WCCO) — The man accused of starting a fire in a Duluth synagogue last week was formally charged Monday, according to a criminal complaint.

Matthew James Amiot, 36, was charged with one felony count of negligently causing a fire and one misdemeanor count of negligently causing a fire that caused bodily harm.

(credit: St. Louis County)

The complaint states Amiot was seen lighting a “variety of combustible materials” on fire inside a small alcove behind Adas Israel Congregation Synagogue on Sept. 9 around 2:13 a.m. Amiot is then seen walking from the synagogue about two minutes later and looking back at the flames.

RELATED: Police: Man, 36, Arrested In Duluth Synagogue Fire

Emergency responders arrived to the synagogue at 2:22 a.m. to find three-foot flames coming from the area.

By 3:39 a.m. the structure began to collapse, causing one firefighter from the Duluth Fire Department to be hit with debris. He was rendered unconscious and taken to the hospital to be treated for a concussion.

Officials deemed the synagogue to be a total loss.

Upon questioning, Amiot admitted to starting the fire, and told authorities he tried to “spit” on it to put it out. He said when the fire wouldn’t go out, he walked away. Police in Duluth say they don’t believe the fire was an act of hate.

A judge set Amiot’s bail at $20,000 Monday with no conditions.


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