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Man charged with igniting girlfriend's house

LAWRENCEVILLE — A Lawrenceville man is behind bars for allegedly trying to burn down his girlfriend’s home with a firework in the wake of a domestic dispute, authorities said Friday.

Fire investigators arrested Joshua Rotkaen, 21, Thursday night at his residence on Sweetwater Road.

Investigators believe Rotkaen ignited his girlfriend’s Stone Hollow Place home, located off Moon Road in Lawrenceville, as her parents lay sleeping inside about 6 a.m. Thursday.

A neighbor spotted flames on the side of the home, knocked on the door to alert the family, then used a garden hose to douse the blaze, said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge.

The fire caused moderate damage to the home’s siding, and no injuries were reported.

“They’re fortunate that the neighbor was alert,” Rutledge said.

Fire crews called in investigators after discovering a firework device in close proximity to the burned area. A woman who lives in the home with her parents returned to the house and led investigators to Rotkaen, her boyfriend, Rutledge said.

“They had gotten into an altercation earlier in the morning, which left a mark on her,” Rutledge said.

Investigators executed a search warrant at Rotkaen’s residence, where they found fireworks identical to the one located at the fire scene, Rutledge said.

“During questioning at his home, Rotkaen admitted to causing the fire with a firework device,” he said.

Rotkaen remains at the Gwinnett County Jail on first-degree arson and battery charges. The latter charge is related to the domestic dispute, Rutledge said.