A 27-year-old South Philadelphia man was charged today with setting the Sunday morning fire at Philadelphia International Records that severely damaged some of the legendary studio's prized memorabilia.
Chris Cimini, charged with arson, burglary and other crimes, had to be rescued by firefighters from the third-story of the building, at Broad and Spruce Streets.
Cimini, of the 2700 block of South Fairhill Street, was treated at a hospital, questioned and released on Sunday.
A warrant for his arrest later was issued, and Cimini surrendered to police today.
Investigators said Cimini had been drinking all night in Center City before he went to the studio around 6 a.m. From surveillance video showing him knocking and banging on the door, police believe Cimini thought he was "somewhere familiar," such as a friend's apartment.
Eventually, Cimini kicked the door until he broke the glass and squirmed inside, said police Capt. John Gallagher, of East Detectives and the Arson Response Team.
Once inside the studio, police said Cimini vandalized the place, setting off a fire extinguisher and eventually igniting items in a merchandize storage room sometime after 7 a.m.
The fire destroyed gold records and priceless photos, but spared the recording studio. The building has been owned by songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, along with their partner Thom Bell, since 1970.
Artists such as Chubby Checker, Teddy Pendergrass and Patti LaBelle recorded their hits there.