A 52-year-old man was charged with first-degree arson, animal cruelty and related offenses in connection to a Baltimore County house fire and explosion in late April.

Michael J. Greensfelder, of Essex, is being held without bond. He did not have an attorney listed in online court records as of Tuesday morning.

Charging documents allege Greensfelder intentionally removed a cap from a gas line of a home on Crafton Road in Essex and used some sort of other fuel to set fire to the property. Investigators think the fire killed a family pet, a 1-year-old Yorkshire terrier named Nicki Minaj.

“It went from a couple of flames to this massive thing of flames. I mean so fast. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen,” neighbor Patricia Rodolff said last month.

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The fire was reported shortly after 11 p.m. on April 20. It was under control about 3 hours later, according to investigators.

Greensfelder’s wife, who was living at the Essex home, told investigators she and Greensfelder had been separated for about a month at the time of the explosion, and that he had been staying with his mother.

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She told investigators “the rhetoric between her and her estranged husband has been increasingly negative” and that, a couple of hours before the fire, Greensfelder drove by the house and saw her with a male acquaintance leaving the home.

Greensfelder was driving his mother’s car and “left quickly and drove aggressively,” according to court records.

Video footage obtained by investigators show Greensfelder entering the home through the front door shortly after 7:38 p.m. At 11:02 p.m., the structure “erupts” from an explosion, and Greensfelder is seen walking out two minutes later, according to court records.

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A neighbor told investigators she saw Greensfelder in the rear of the house about 45 minutes before the explosion, according to court records.

Greensfelder told investigators he was at the house alone and “in and out of sleep” on the couch at the time of the fire. He was treated for first- and second-degree burns all over his body.

A BGE analysis found the natural gas flow into the house increased to ”nearly ten times” the amount previously recorded at the house, and that flow was sustained for over two hours, including during the explosion, according to court records. The gas flow rate “was consistent with an open pipe,” investigators wrote.

A trained canine named Blondie detected the presence of ignitable liquid on Greensfelder’s clothing and around other areas of the investigation site, according to court records. The liquid was not specifically identified as of Tuesday afternoon, but court records said the dogs are trained to detect liquids like gasoline and kerosene.

Investigators also found a half-inch pipe cap from a natural gas supply line was missing, and found the iron cap at the base of the furnace in the home’s basement, “consistent with the cap being deliberately and intentionally unscrewed,” according to court records.

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Ultimately, investigators determined the house explosion was the result of “intentional introduction of fuel” into the residence; they have not identified a specific ignition source, according to court documents.

WJZ’s Rohan Mattu contributed to this article. WJZ is a media partner of The Baltimore Banner.

Cody Boteler is a reporter on The Banner’s Express Desk, reporting on breaking news, trending stories and interesting things in and around Baltimore. His work has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, USA TODAY, Baltimore magazine and others.

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