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Neighbors in Shock after Pair of Fires

Police in Monroe County said Monday a house explosion in Pocono Summit and car fire that sparked miles and minutes apart are connected.

Police said they believe the man who lived inside the home is the same person found inside a burning van two and a half miles away.

Fire investigators used a trained dog to sniff out accelerants to help them figure out how the fire sparked in the early morning hours Monday.

“I looked out the window and saw flames. I was like holy crap, the house is on fire! I pulled on my sweats and dialed 911,” said Dana Machovsky of Pocono Summit.

Fire investigators said the dog detected several areas where an accelerant was used.

Police said the house was lived in by a man named Robert Colthirst but are not saying if he started the blaze.

Ten minutes after the home went up in flames, a mini-van registered to Colthirst was found burning just a few miles away in the borough of Mount Pocono.

“The cops asked me the person that lives here, if he drives a vehicle. I said yes, he drives a silver van, but the van was not in the garage. At that point I felt consoled, that at least he wasn’t in there,” said Gloria Francis.

Police found a body inside the van and said they believe it’s Colthirst.

Colthirst’s friends and neighbors came by and stared at the home in disbelief.

“If my daughters miss the bus, he would take her to school for me, that sort of thing,” said Francis.

Another friend who didn’t want to be identified said, “I appreciated him. He wouldn’t deny anything. We were good friends. Since he was alone and so was I, we would go sightseeing together in the Poconos,”

Police also said Colthirst was possibly going to be evicted from his home this month.


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