Police: Man set himself on fire

A 35-year-old man is accused of setting himself on fire on Labor Day after an argument with his girlfriend that led to an apartment blaze which investigators previously attributed to a possible meth lab malfunction.

Christopher Alan Kochan, 4232 Swire St., Baton Rouge, was booked into Parish Prison Thursday by the Baton Rouge Fire Department on counts of aggravated arson and simple battery.

Kochan suffered second- and third-degree burns to about 20 percent of his upper body in the fire, which occurred inside the bedroom of an apartment in the 3300 block of Carol Drive, according to an arrest warrant.

Kochan’s girlfriend was not injured in the fire, but was treated and released from a hospital after suffering acute contusions to her jaw and hand, the warrant says.

Witnesses said Kochan struck his girlfriend then doused himself with a flammable liquid and set himself ablaze, lighting up a bed inside the apartment, the warrant says.

On the day of the fire, Sept. 2, two people were arrested and booked into Parish Prison on counts of aggravated arson and creation/operation of a methamphetamine lab.

One of the two accused of arson, Pietra Marisa Brocato, 32, remained behind bars on a $25,400 bail Friday night on the arson counts, the meth lab counts and following too closely. The other, Joseph B. Garcia, was released Sept. 3 on a $25,000 bail, prison records show.

In the initial report, Roberts Combs, a spokesman for the Baton Rouge Fire Department, said investigators expected to arrest a man who was admitted to a hospital after suffering burns in the fire. Kochan matches the description of that man.

It was unclear Friday evening whether investigators had officially attributed the cause of the fire to a meth lab malfunction or Kochan supposedly dousing himself. All three people have been accused of aggravated arson.

Fire investigators say the facts of the case dictated the charges to each individual, said Curt Monte, a Baton Rouge Fire Department spokesman. Once the district attorney reviews the case, it will be up to him whether additional charges are added or dropped against any of the individuals involved, Monte said.