Suspect Apprehended Following Suspicious Fire Incident at Mamma Mia’s Italian Restaurant

Homestead, Florida – A concerning incident unfolded on Monday, September 18, at approximately 8:30 a.m., when employees of Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant, situated on Washington Avenue in Homestead, discovered a fire at the rear of their establishment as they prepared for the day’s lunch service. The fire, which posed a significant threat, was fueled by the sizable propane tanks that serve as the restaurant’s standby generator fuel source.

The quick actions of individuals present at the site and the attentiveness of a contractor who happened to be there for a bathroom renovation inspection were instrumental in preventing a more severe situation. Maria Lombardo, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, conveyed her appreciation, saying, “We are thankful that the inspection was planned for this morning. The Fire Department and the police arrived promptly, and, most importantly, none of our employees suffered any injuries.”

In response to the emergency, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Battalion Chief, Juan Del Campo, reported that six units with 23 firefighters rapidly converged on the scene. Their primary focus was to cool down the propane tanks, safeguard the restaurant building, and protect the surrounding properties. When asked about the possible cause of the fire, Chief Del Campo cautiously stated, “Of course, pending further investigation, it appears to be arson.”

Homestead Police Officers, who were on-site, confirmed their pursuit of a person of interest related to the incident. By approximately 10:40 a.m., law enforcement had taken an individual into custody, pending confirmation through witness identification.

Subsequent investigation efforts conclusively identified the detained individual as the perpetrator of the fire. Juan Martinez, aged 59, was arrested and charged accordingly. Captain Fernando Morales of the Homestead Police Department disclosed that Martinez provided a full confession.

The incident also drew the presence of Homestead Code Enforcement and Building inspectors, in conjunction with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue inspectors. These teams worked collaboratively to ensure the safety of the interior environment and expedite the reopening of this beloved community restaurant.

Maria Lombardo expressed her appreciation for the support received from the community during this trying time and conveyed the restaurant’s intention to resume operations as quickly as possible.

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