Molotov Cocktail Arson in Hazleton

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HAZLETON -- A man from Hazleton is now locked up, after police say he tried to light a woman's house on fire by throwing a Molotov cocktail at it.

The man was unsuccessful at burning down the home, or harming the woman because of quick-acting neighbors.

A Molotov cocktail is usually a glass container filled gasoline, lit and thrown so when it crashes it can be explosive. That's why police say this could have been a deadly arson.

Glass shards are still on the porch of a home on North Locust Street in Hazleton, what remains of a Molotov cocktail thrown at the front door.

"I thank God for my neighbors because if it weren't for them, I don't know what would've happened. I was asleep."

A woman who did not want to show her face was alone in the home when an alleged arsonist attacked.

Her neighbor's heard the crash of the cocktail and looked outside. They quickly started to put out the fire that started burning on her porch stairs, and began shouting at a man seen walking from the fire.

"If it wasn't for them chasing him off, I don't know what would've happened. Right now, that's the scariest part. It's not knowing and not knowing why he did it."

A man driving by happened to see what happened, followed the alleged arsonist, and called 911 until police were able to apprehend the suspect.

"This just proves that there are good people in the world, that there are people that are willing to help."

The Hazleton police chief is also praising the neighbors' quick action.

"I always say collaboration releases the power of the many to do what none can do alone," said Hazleton Police Chief Jerry Speziale.

The chief commends neighbors for helping to put out the fire, and forĀ helping to nab the suspected arsonist: Gary Smith, 58, of Hazleton.

Smith has been charged with felony arson.

"This could've turned deadly," said the chief. "You have an occupied structure, you have someone throwing an incendiary device. Suppose a neighbor didn't get it out?"

Gary smith is still behind bars, unable to post bail.

Police and the D.A.'s office are still investigating this case, trying to find a motive and if anyone else is involved.

1 Comment

  • Against idiot voters

    Wow. Just wow. That’s messed up. Even if it’s someone you don’t like. To burn to death!

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