A Windsor judge has approved the Crown's application to have a charge of arson ruled as a serious personal injury offence, in the case of a suspect charged with allegedly starting a fire at a former downtown restaurant.

Patrick Warren, 38, pleaded not guilty to arson in connection with a fire that caused $75,000 in damage at the former Pour House restaurant on Chatham St. West last February.

Investigators determined the fire was intentionally set in a small garbage shed behind the building.

AM800 News reports Justice Greg Verbeem agreed with Crown Attorney Brian Manarin who argued in December that the inherent risk of starting a fire, and the dangerous work of firefighters, makes the crime a serious offence.

Manarin cited an unrelated fire truck crash, which seriously injured four firefighters when their truck rolled on Huron Church Road at the foot of the Ambassador Bridge in March 2007.

The personal injury offence could mean a longer sentence if Warren is found guilty. It could also allow the Crown to seek a dangerous offender status.

Warren's lawyer, Daniel Topp, argued against the application, stating no one was hurt in the fire and the building was unoccupied at the time.

Justice Verbeem’s decision marks the first time a provincial judge has included arson as a serious offence.

The trial resumes on Friday March 2.