WEATHERLY, Pa. -- Police have charged two people with arson in Carbon County. The charges come after a two-year investigation led police to uncover a tangled web of crimes in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Officers in Weatherly said the devastating arson on Third Street not only put the lives of neighbors and first responders in danger, but it also led them to a long investigation involving drugs and explosives.
Even two years ago, police said they had their suspicions this was arson. Now, police said they have the evidence to charge David Lugones and Felix Larrinaga-Sanchez.
Officers said surveillance video caught the two setting the fire in a vacant house.
Neighbor David Clarke’s home eventually was destroyed by the fire.
“We could just hear a lot of commotion. We could actually see fire. I looked out the window and I said, ‘Oh the neighbor’s house is on fire!’” Clarke said.
Part of the reason why investigators said they knew this was an arson case from the start was that the fire spread so quickly. The heat was even so intense it damaged houses across the street.
“The fire was hot enough to melt the blinds behind the glass across the street. They were melted and the siding was melted from the heat,” Clarke said.
Officers said this arson burned seven buildings and caused more than a million dollars in damages.
The evidence gathered ultimately led police to a raid in Freeland and a search for bodies in Foster Township on properties owned by Roberto Torner.
Police said Torner owned the vacant house where the arson was set and collected $236,000 in insurance money.
“This incident right here has sparked many other investigations that are very, very serious,” Weatherly police Sgt. Michael Bogart said.
Since the arson, police charged Torner and Liza Robles with selling narcotics and explosives violations. Police said Lugones and Larrinaga-Sanchez worked for them.
Despite so much hardship, Clarke said he still looks on the bright side.
“We've said thank you and want to say it again just to all people. The way the community rallied to come to our aid so many people were like, ‘oh we feel sorry for you,’ and they came out to help,” Clarke said.
Lugones is already locked up in Lackawanna County prison on narcotics charges.
There is a warrant for Larrinaga-Sanchez’s arrest.