Two Charged With Starting Scranton Blaze After Smoking Spice

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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.

The building partially collapsed and had to be demolished and more than 20 people were left homeless.

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.


  • Kristin

    I personally think that they should be charged with drug possession. Not only that attempted murder. Why do ppl under the influence always get off so easily. Pa laws? Wow

  • Patches14

    I get accidents happen but this is not one of those times. A week earlier same thing happened but that time they called for help. This time they started a fire, snuck out of the building and LEFT, without saying a word. Who does that?? Thankfully no residents or firefighters got killed. What idiots

  • Flandre

    They were probably engaging in a satanic ritual. I heard that’s how Obama was conceived. Spice + Fire + Interracial Couple = Anti-Christ Presidents

  • H Jean

    Why is this stuff still legal? Is causing as many problems as the bath salts. Them two should have been evicted after their first fire. If they want to burn their own home fine, but hopefully people in these apartment buildings will get better protection going forward.

    • Alisha

      Spice is not legal BUT like anything else in the world people found a way to change the cosmetic makeup of the drug which therefore made it “legal.” We can’t keep up with the changes in the drug

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