A man accused of setting fire to a vacant home in LaPlume Twp. on Monday, July 31, was a volunteer firefighter who later responded to the blaze, according to charging documents filed against him Thursday.
State police arrested Jacob William Richmond, 19, of Factoryville, on Thursday on arson and criminal trespass charges related to a fire that destroyed the home at 2025 College Ave., not far from the Keystone College campus.
Fire crews responded there about 3:35 p.m. Monday to find the building, which had no utilities hooked up to it, engulfed in flames.
State police fire marshals arrived after the fire had been extinguished and Factoryville Fire Company Chief Kevin Howard told troopers that a gray Mazda was spotted near the building shortly before a passerby reported the fire, according to court documents.
Howard also told troopers about an earlier fire at the firehouse. One of his members, Richmond, was spotted leaving the scene at the time of that fire and then returned as it was being extinguished.
The chief told police that Richmond owns a gray Mazda and he had concerns the two incidents might be related, troopers said.
Troopers spoke to Richmond at the Factoryville Fire Company station on Thursday and Richmond told police he started the fire by igniting pieces of paper inside the building, but “didn’t mean for it to go that far,” according to court documents.
Richmond told police he watched the fire for about five minutes before leaving in his vehicle. He was at home when his pager went off for the fire and then went to help fight it, he told police.
The company has been working with law enforcement regarding the incident and is reevaluating policy and procedures to eliminate the possibility of future ones, according to the post. The company will not tolerate firefighter arson, according to the statement.
“The reprehensible actions of this individual do not represent this department or the fire service as a whole,” Howard said in the statement. “Our mission has not changed. The Factoryville Fire Company will continue to serve the community and its citizens with honor, dignity and devotion.”
Magisterial District Judge Joanne Price Corbett arraigned Richmond on Thursday night and set bail at 10 percent of $20,000. Richmond was taken to Lackawanna County Prison.
Bail was posted Friday.
A preliminary hearing has been set before Judge Corbett for Monday, Aug. 14.