NJ Warehouse Owner and Worker Accused of Disabling Sprinklers Before Fire

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An owner and employee of a NJ warehouse that was destroyed in an inferno are accused of tampering with the fire sprinklers prior to the fire.

The fire sprinklers were leaking, and instead of calling a fire sprinkler inspection, testing, and maintenance company, the owner and maintenance worker disabled the sprinklers.  Soon afterwards, a blaze ignited that burned for five days and destroyed the warehouse which housed several businesses.

Mark Leonardis, 57, and Mario Lora, 66, were taken into custody when investigators discovered that the fire sprinkler valve chain was cut.  Each defendent has bail set at $150k. 

The two men are facing second degree charges of causing widespread damage, which could put the men in prison for up to 10 years.

The fire raged.  Hundreds of firefighters responded.  For five days the fire burned the block long building and caused nearby schools to close.  The building collapsed by the time firefighters were able to extinguish the fire.

Several businesses that rented the warehouse were displaced.

Investigators do not believe they will ever find the cause of the fire.