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Fire officials charge man with first-degree arson

LAWRENCEVILLE — The Lawrenceville man accused of setting fire to his former home while his young daughter was inside has been officially charged by fire investigators, even as he remains hospitalized.

Warrants for two counts of aggravated assault, first-degree arson and cruelty to children were served Tuesday against 45-year-old Roberto Fernandez-Centena, Gwinnett County fire department spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge said.

He remains in guarded custody at the hospital, where he is being treated for exposure to cold weather.

According to fire investigators, Fernandez-Centena took his 6-year-old daughter to their former home on the 1000 block of Daisy Court in Lawrenceville on Christmas Eve. Entering with gas can in hand, he set the home ablaze. The child fled the house before going to a neighbor’s house to call 911.

After a three-day search, Fernandez-Centena was found on the back porch of a home on nearby Flagg Way. He will be booked at Gwinnett County Jail upon release from the hospital, Rutledge said.

The second aggravated assault charge is related to an unspecified incident that occurred the night before the fire, Rutledge said.