SCRANTON -- Scranton police arrested and charged two people in connection with a blaze Wednesday night at a rooming house on Capouse Avenue in the city.
Denise Raymond and Joseph Bergamino were charged with a criminal mischief and several counts of reckless endangerment. Investigators said the couple admitted to smoking the drug ‘spice,’ getting high and accidentally setting the fire in the rooming house, before leaving without calling for help.
One man, Owen Miles, had to be rescued from his third floor window.
"I almost died in it, that's not getting you? I almost died!" he said, when he learned his former neighbors had been charged in connection with the blaze.
"I'd punch them in the face! You started that fire! You burned the whole building down!" he said.
Scranton Police Fire Marshal Martin Monahan said it is very unusual to charge people with accidental fires, but in this case, it had to be done.
"When you put the public's lives at risk or the police officers or firefighters lives at risk doing reckless acts, the police department has no choice but to investigate and arrest on it,” said Monahan.
Spice is also known as synthetic marijuana and is made from plant materials soaked in chemicals that can be smoked and cause a person to get high.
Already, local police and medical officials have reported a sharp spike in arrests and overdoses because of it.
According to Scranton fire officials, this is not even the first fire Bergamino and Raymond accidentally started while smoking spice.
“The Scranton fire department responded to the same address a week prior, the same room for a fire to a mattress and I'm being told by the people in that room, the defendants that they were under the influence of spice when that fire happened, so this is the second fire in a week,” said Monahan.
"They need to pay for what they did. Remember, everybody in the building lost everything. I have to start all over, again,” said Miles.