Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

20-year-old Ruben A.O. Cruz has pleaded not guilty to setting a fire last spring that did $70 million worth of damage to a Woodridge warehouse filled with furniture. He entered the plea last Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, where he is charged with a felony count of intentionally damaging property by fire. U.S. Magistrate Judge Manish S. Shah accepted Cruz’s plea and continued the matter.

Cruz, a forklift operator, is accused of using a disposable lighter on April 21 to set fire to a packing slip. That, in turn, sparked the blaze that destroyed the 325,000-square-foot RoomPlace warehouse on Internationale Parkway in Woodridge.

Sixty-five employees escaped from the fire, which raged for about seven hours and was battled by more than 100 firefighters from Woodridge and 34 other fire agencies.

Investigators have said Cruz set the fire following a work-related argument with his supervisor.

The supervisor told Cruz he would be losing some of his vacation time because he had missed two days of work earlier in the month. Cruz, who had worked for the RoomPlace for about seven months, insisted he had been at work on those days and allegedly became upset during the meeting, with his supervisor telling him he had enough information to fire him, authorities said. The supervisor called another manager into the office because he said he was afraid Cruz would become violent.

Cruz left the meeting to return to work on the warehouse floor. The building’s fire alarms sounded about 15 minutes later. One employee claimed to have seen Cruz running toward him and dropping a lighter as he went. Cruz turned around and picked up the lighter before continuing to the emergency exit, the worker told authorities.

Cruz was reportedly seen playing cards outside the building as the fire burned.

thanks Dan