A Hudson Valley man set his local business on fire which nearly killed one person.

On Tuesday in Orange County Court, 44-year-old Jesus Cruz of Peekskill was sentenced to 17 years in prison after a jury convicted him of arson.

The jury found that on Sept. 22, 2017, Cruz intentionally damaged the building at 435 Broadway by starting the fire when he knew another person was in the building, or that there was a reasonable possibility that someone was in the building.

The jury also found that Cruz showed a corrupt disregard for human life and his conduct created a grave risk of death to the tenant who Cruz knew lived above the bodega.

A witness testified she saw Cruz exit his store at about 10:50 p.m. and then saw an explosion and flames coming from the building. Cruz started the fire by spilling gasoline in the building and setting it ablaze, officials say.

“This defendant intentionally placed at grave risk the tenant of that building, the brave firefighters who responded to the fire, as well as others in the vicinity, and clearly deserved a severe prison sentence,” Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said. “Arson, particularly when it occurs in a densely populated urban area, is an incredibly dangerous crime. To endanger the lives of others, whether for spite or for financial reward, is something that cannot be tolerated. Every day in our county, firefighters, both volunteer and professional, risk their lives to keep us safe. Arson needlessly adds to the dangers they have bravely agreed to accept to protect us.”

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