MAHONING TOWNSHIP, MONTOUR COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Mahoning Township police have charged an Estes Express Lines employee with arson after a fire Wednesday night.
According to law enforcement shortly after 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, officers responded to a call for a fire at the Estes Express Lines in the 400 block of Mahoning Drive East. When police arrived on scene they observed a trailer almost fully engulfed in flames.
Police say employees at the scene said the trailer that was on fire contained flammable and hazardous materials. The employees also advised officers of the racks of propane tanks just on the other side of the fiery trailer.
According to the police criminal complaint, the fire then expanded, igniting five more trailers in flames, and the building itself is said to have sustained ‘heavy damage.’ The business was open and there were also employees in the building at the time of the fire.
As the complaint reads, it took 85 firefighters from 7 different departments to get the flames under control and extinguished.
Officers say they spoke with numerous employees working in the area of the fire and were directed to speak with Anthony Dick (pictured below), who stated he had been working out of door 46 and had moved all his ‘freight’ near door 37.
Dick also said he went to the bathroom for two to three minutes and when he came out, his co-workers informed him that the trailer at door 39 was on fire. He then grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran toward the burning trailer to put help extinguish it, court papers say.
Police say the business dispatcher said when Dick came to him earlier in the day, around 2:30 p.m., he alerted Dick to a fire in the middle area of the building on the second floor, which he extinguished and was in an area not used by employees.
The State Police Fire Marshall said he responded and through an investigation, it was determined there had been three individual fires set inside the middle of the building that had also been extinguished.
Police say the Fire Marshall requested permission to search Dick’s backpack to which he consented, and police found an Ozark Trail Flint and a Steel Fire Starter.
According to the complaint, Dick said he purchased the flint for a camping trip and denied any involvement in the ignition of the fires.
Law enforcement said on Friday around 7:45 p.m. Dick was read his Miranda rights and taken in for further questioning. While speaking with police Dick admitted that he accidentally backed into a flammable skid, causing a small fire to break out and that he ran for an extinguisher, but was too late, the complaint reads.
The criminal complaint states Dick said he was afraid he would be blamed for another fire that occurred in a dumpster at the business on August 11, which police are still investigating.
As the complaint reads, Dick was asked if he intended for the fires to harm anyone, to which he replied “no.”Despite his answer, it was determined that the multiple points of fire origin made it impossible for the fires to be accidental.
Dick has been charged with two felony counts of arson and one felony count of risking catastrophe.
He was remanded to the Carbon County Correctional Facility on $100,000 monetary bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Septemberer 7 before Magisterial District Judge Casimir T. Kosciolek.