CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J. – A Cliffside Park woman set her apartment on fire and tried to take off with her two young children in a cab on Tuesday, authorities who arrested her on aggravated arson and child endangerment charges said Thursday.
Laila Abualia, 26, was ordered held in the Bergen County Jail pending a bail hearing.
The building superintendent told police and firefighters who responded to Tuesday’s fire at the 11-unit building at 238 Day Avenue that Abualia lived there with Imad Awawda and their two children – ages 3 and 5, Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal said.
The building is two doors down from an elementary school in a densely populated neighborhood.
Abualia was fleeing with the youngsters in a taxi when the superintendent said he stopped her and questioned her about the fire, Grewal said.
She “turned over her keys to the superintendent…then left in the taxi with her children,” the prosecutor said.
The fire was contained to the apartment, he said.
Investigators from Grewal’s Arson Squad found that the fire was deliberately set in two separate areas – the bedroom and living room – with “an outside heat source which ignited bedding/furniture in those areas,” the prosecutor said.