Fires Ruled Arson at Two Vacant Homes, Fire Marshal Investigating Third Fire at Abandoned Church

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HARFORD TOWNSHIP -- Pictures posted to the Harford Volunteer Fire Company`s Facebook page show two recent fires in vacant homes in that part of Susquehanna County.

The most recent was early Easter Sunday morning at an empty house on Stephens Road.

Boyd Smith lives across the street and says he heard someone driving away shortly after flames started to show.

“Quarter to two, we heard the dogs carrying on again and then we heard a car take off. Two doors slammed, then the car went up the road,” said Smith.

Now fire officials say a state police fire marshal has ruled that fire arson as well as another fire set at a vacant trailer on Plank Road five weeks ago.

The fire company posted this warning to residents on Facebook to put people on alert:

Hello everyone. Sadly, we find ourselves in a position to make another post we don't necessarily want to make. As most that follow our postings know, we responded to a structure fire (unoccupied residence, photos attached) early yesterday morning. It has been determined by the PSP Fire Marshal that this fire was another act of Arson.

What many may not know, this is the second arson fire of an unoccupied structure within our first due area in 5 weeks. Unfortunately we are dealing with someone that is setting these fires deliberately. PSP Gibson has information about this fire from yesterday morning, and are doing everything they can.

What we'd like to ask from all of you is to please keep an eye out on your property, and the property of your neighbors. If you see anything out of the ordinary, do not be afraid to call the police. Any and all information could help lead them to catching whoever is doing this.

Some may call this a "victim-less crime", but the fact is, these persons are not only damaging property that belongs to others but also putting our area firefighters at risk trying to extinguish these fires. Hopefully with your help, and a little bit of luck, they will be caught before any more damage is done or anyone gets hurt.

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“The biggest thing we're asking for the general public, obviously just to be vigilant if they see something out of the ordinary,” said the Harford Volunteer Assistant Fire Chief Chad Batzel.

Gerry Bockus lives near the plank road fire scene.

“I said it sounds like we have an arson, which is scary because after a while they get tired of the abandoned buildings and then next thing you know, someone's house is going to be on fire,” said Bockus.

And now a state police fire marshal is investigating a fire at an abandoned church in Clifford Township about 10 miles from Harford after the fire chief there called it suspicious.

State police say it’s too soon to say if any of the fires are connected, but fire officials are worried it will get worse.

“History shows that eventually, unfortunately, these things escalate and our biggest concern now, our biggest fear is that it’s going to escalate to an occupied structure where the chance of somebody getting hurt is significantly higher,” said Batzel.