State Police: Volunteer Firefighter Charged With Arson

FACTORYVILLE -- State police have arrested a man for setting a fire at a vacant home in Lackawanna County.

That fire broke out on Monday in near Keystone College and police say the man who set it is a volunteer fire fighter.

19-year-old Jacob Richmond of Factoryville is now facing arson and other related charges for setting a fire at a vacant house near Factoryville on Monday; a fire that turned the house into a burning inferno.

Employees from nearby Keystone College came rushing out of their offices to watch as the house burned.

“I got a call from my coworker that the building was on fire so we came down and fully engulfed, in flames, top to bottom,” said Mark Gowarty. “It was very hot, we were standing right here on the corner and very, very hot.”

“I was working up campus and I saw the smoke,” said Elena O’Conner. “I came down and by the time I got down, it was fully engulfed, it went up very quickly.”

Now Richmond is being held responsible after investigators say a witness saw his car at the scene just before the fire broke out.

“It gives us a sense safety now that someone has been taken away and we don`t have to worry about any of our other buildings going up on fire,” said Gowarty.

Investigators say Richmond admits he set fire to some paper inside the house then watched the fire for five minutes before leaving.

Police say he is a volunteer with the Factoryville Fire Company and say he came back to fight the fire after setting it.

In a statement from the Factoryville Fire Chief, Kevin Howard said:

“The reprehensible actions of this individual do not represent this department or the fire service as a whole.”

The fire company posted on its Facebook page that it “will not tolerate these actions” and is “working with law enforcement to ensure justice is served”.

“It`s senseless, it`s really pointless, there`s no reason for it,” said O’Connor. “I mean just for what, the fire was maybe 30, 45 minutes and now the repercussions are long lasting for such a young kid.”

Bail was set at $20,000.

Jacob Richmond was taken to the Lackawanna County Prison after his arraignment.

19 comments

  • gwilkers

    Theres good and bad volunteer firefighters like in everything. But there is no accountability! Some steal funds and loan money like the ones in Delano and some light fires like the ones here or some area just addicted to attention being a part time firefighter. i wish the government in PA would have funded more professional fire fighter/EMS services. In Some states even the rural areas have professional paid Fire and EMS services. PA again behind the times!

    • El Ma

      Gwilkers……..exactly. I’m grateful for the folks who donate their time to help save lives and property. But, I’m also accepting of the fact that a lot of these individuals have issues. Jacob Richmond is one of the serious odd balls. He’s probably going to be diagnosed with some personality disorder. He’s definitely a danger to society (at 19?). But, most of the men and women that volunteer do it as a sense of duty to their communities.

      It’s a hard call to vet-out volunteers. Shame on Richmond for his actions……….

  • HARV

    Some of these Volunteer Firefighters are as bad as the 40 year old’s that are stuck in high school. Ready to suit up for friday night lights.
    Some wait for fire whistles for kicks in their small town and post every fire run on Facebook. Its almost like an addiction. Its real popular around here. Pedophiles, high school sports addiction and fire addiction big problems in this backward area.

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