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Alleged Arsonist in Spring Street Fire Charged With Murder

By  Trevor Kapp Joe Parziale and Aidan Gardiner | January 11, 2013 2:18pm 

NOLITA — The alleged arsonist accused of sparking the massive blaze that engulfed his Spring Street apartment building and left one person dead and nine injured has been charged with murder, police said.

Wei Chu Wu, 45, was arrested Thursday night after setting fire his second-floor apartment inside of 41 Spring St., near Mulberry Street, and confronting emergency responders, according to the NYPD.

He was charged Friday with arson, murder, attempted assault of a police officer and resisting arrest, cops said.

Witnesses of the blaze said Wu looked battered and dazed as police walked him toward Lafayette Street Thursday night.

"His lip was broken and he was bleeding from his eyes. He had a white shirt with blood stains," 23-year-old Mary Delgado, who works in the area, said Friday morning.

After being treated at New York Downtown Hospital most of the night for bruises and other minor injuries, Wu was escorted Friday afternoon by three cops out of an unmarked Chevy Malibu into Manhattan Central Booking. Dressed in a white hospital gown and sporting a purple welt he sustained after scuffling with emergency responders, a stoic Wu didn't respond to reporters' questions about the fire.

Wu had just been in a domestic dispute with his wife when he started the fire in a hallway of the building about 6:40 p.m., cops said.

The flames raced both vertically and horizontally until they fully engulfed the five-story apartment building, which is atop a Pinkberry frozen yogurt shop, FDNY officials said Thursday.

Other witnesses said that before any crews arrived, Wu was standing outside the building, watching the flames.

“I was standing next to him," said Wai Kong, 37, Friday. "He was standing there, nonchalant, in a tank top, shorts and slippers."

As the blaze raged, Wu tried to bar first responders from entering the building and even broke the hand of a nine-year NYPD veteran in the scuffle, cops said.

Wu's wife and child both escaped the flames unscathed, but one person was pronounced dead at the scene, so badly charred on the fourth-floor fire escape that he or she was "beyond recognition," cops said.

The person who died still hadn't been publicly identified as of Friday afternoon. The medical examiner will determine the victim's identity and cause of death, police said.

Nine other people, including seven of the 200 responding firefighters, were also taken to New York Downtown Hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries, fire officials said.

Wu was awaiting arraignment Friday afternoon.