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Man Charged With Setting Fire, Hurting 1-Year-Old

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Kolin Avenue Fire

A child is rescued from a fire in the 4800 block of South Kolin Avenue. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 01/03/11 10:05 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – A man is being held on $500,000 bond for allegedly setting a Christmas tree on fire and injuring his 1-year-old son the day after Christmas.

Robert Villanueva, 35, was charged early Sunday with two counts of aggravated arson, according to police.

Bond for Villanueva was set at $500,000 on Sunday.

About 8:25 p.m. on Dec. 26, the mother’s intoxicated ex-boyfriend, later identified as Villanueva, entered the home in the 4800 block of South Kolin Avenue and set the Christmas tree on fire before he fled the scene, according to police News Affairs Officer Ron Gaines, who said the injured child is 1-year-old.

The fire was extinguished by 8:40 p.m. that day, according to Fire Media Affairs spokesman Will Knight who said the child suffered “minor burns” and was taken to Saint Anthony Hospital.

According to a police report, officers responded to an arson in progress and when they got there, the mother of Villanueva’s ex-girlfriend told officers that he showed up intoxicated and began to ring the doorbell.

A woman who lives there let him in and he began arguing with his ex-girlfriend in an attic apartment, where she lives with her children — including the child injured, who is Villanueva’s son.

His ex-girlfriend then came to the first floor to get away but Villanueva was left with the child who was sleeping in a crib, according to the report.

When Villanueva began to cause a commotion in the attic, another resident told him he was going to call the police. A few minutes later, the resident went to check on the child and she noticed smoke coming out of the attic door in the hallway, the report said.

She tried to enter the attic but Villanueva allegedly told her: “You guys called the police so now I’m going to give you a reason to call the police. I’m going to burn this house down with me and my son in it,’’ the report said.

Responding firefighters initially couldn’t get in because Villanueva had barricaded the door. But once they did, they found the baby suffered “slight smoke inhalation.”

Villanueva fled out from a side door wearing only boxer shorts, and was apparently caught running on video. But was arrested at 5 p.m. this past Saturday at 4500 Prairie Ave. in Brookfield, police said.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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