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Egg Harbor Township man pleads guilty to starting Lakewood house fire
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Egg Harbor Township man pleads guilty to starting Lakewood house fire

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Police in Osaka are searching for a potential arson behind a fire in which 27 people are feared dead.

An Egg Harbor Township man Thursday admitted intentionally setting a Lakewood house on fire two summers ago, the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office said.

Jamal Preston, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated arson. He also pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon for a separate incident, the Prosecutor's Office said in a news release. Prosecutors are seeking two seven-year prison sentences for the arson charges and 18 months for the weapons offense.

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The fire happened Aug. 22, 2020, while occupants were inside. Investigators found Preston started the blaze using an open flame and flammable fluids, the Prosecutor's Office said.

Preston fled the scene but was later caught by U.S. Marshals more than a week later at an Absecon motel.

He has been held at the Ocean County jail since being captured.

Two days before the fire, Preston was involved in an altercation in Berkeley Township, Ocean County. Officers found him with a knife. He was arrested and released pending court at the time, the Prosecutor's Office said.

Contact Eric Conklin:

609-272-7261

econklin@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressConklin

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