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Man Burns $900,000 Home To Keep It Away From Wife, Prosecutors Say

LYNN (CBS) -- A Swampscott man charged with torching his expensive house to keep it away from his soon-to-be ex-wife was ordered held without bail Monday.

Timothy Brosnan, 57, was arrested Saturday evening shortly after police say he set his Linden Avenue home on fire. He was arraigned on an arson charge this afternoon in Lynn District Court.  He will return to court Wednesday for a dangerousness hearing.

Swampscott Fire
Firefighters battled a multiple-alarm fire Saturday at a home in Swampscott. (WBZ-TV)

Prosecutors say Brosnan burned the house he built one day before he was scheduled to hand it over to his soon-to-be ex-wife as part of a divorce settlement.

"My understanding is the probate court gave the wife possession of the house and that they were to split the mortgage while the divorce proceeding is pending," Brosnan's defense attorney, Gary Zerola, told WBZ-TV.

According to a police report, Brosnan was standing in front of the home watching the flames when firefighters arrived Saturday evening.

Brosnan allegedly told officers that he had poured gasoline in the garage and throughout the house and that he had also opened a gas valve inside.

"In the process of arresting Timothy he was laughing and making jokes," the police report stated. "He was starring [sic] into the house that was on fire and said isn't this the most beautiful thing ever. He would laugh out loud and say yes I did that."

Zerola said Brosnan made sure everyone was out of the house at the time, "even the cat." He claimed Brosnan has never been arrested and has no history of domestic violence.

swampscott fire Timothy Brosnan
Timothy Brosnan in Lynn Distrioct Court, August 1, 2016. (WBZ-TV)

"Mr. Brosnan's been going through a very difficult time in his life," Zerola said. "It's the end of a 27-year marriage with three beautiful children... this is totally the antithesis of everything I know about the man."

A family friend told reporters outside court Monday that Brosnan is "a very nice, kind man."

"He would help you anywhere anytime," Liliya Sherman said. "He would do anything for you, so this is out of character."

The home is listed on Zillow as being worth $900,000.

One firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation after fighting the fire, but was back at work Monday.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens reports

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