Police: Trio to be charged for York City arson of 4 row homes


Three teenage boys are being charged with numerous felony offenses for starting a fire that caused more than a quarter-million dollars in damage to four York City row homes, York City Police said.

The teens live in York City; two of them are 15 years old and other is 14, according to Lt. Troy Bankert, who supervises the York City detective bureau.

They each will be charged with four counts of arson — one count for each building — plus more than 20 counts of reckless endangerment and single counts of causing or risking a catastrophe and criminal mischief, he said. The reckless endangerment counts are for endangering firefighters and residents, Bankert confirmed.

The teens are not being charged as adults. Rather, charges will be filed in juvenile court and mailed to them, according to the lieutenant.

Their names have not been released because they have not been charged as adults.

The arson: York City Fire Chief David Michaels said the teens lit something on fire that was up against the back of 330 E. Poplar St. about 5:30 p.m. Oct. 21.

"From there, the fire just spread," he said, first jumping to 328 E. Poplar St.

"Then it made its way inside and traveled through common areas," including walls, ceilings, attics and roofs, according to Michaels.

The three-alarm blaze displaced seven families made up of 23 people — 14 adults and nine children, the fire chief said.

He said 328 is a single-family home, while 324, 326 and 330 were two-unit buildings.

Michaels said damage is estimated at $300,000.

Mayday: Two firefighters made a mayday call moments after entering one of the buildings, and both suffered minor burns for which they received hospital treatment, officials have said.

Michaels said although the rear exteriors of the buildings had major flames, residents had not entirely fled.

"People were still on the second floor, throwing their belongings out windows," he said. "(The firefighters) went into the house and the first floor was clear — no smoke, no fire, nothing."

They saw two people come down the stairs but because of a language barrier couldn't tell whether there were still residents upstairs, according to Michaels.

"As they went up to search and make sure everybody was out, we believe a window ... failed from the heat," he said. "It brought fire right at them."

Both firefighters had burns to their ears, and one has some minor facial burns as well, he said.

Neighbors helped: Bankert said lead investigator Detective Andy Baez and assisting Detective Kyle Hower were able to solve the arson with the help of community members.

Police had released security video and still shots of the teens, hoping someone could identify them, the lieutenant said.

"We got a lot of calls and cooperation from the community," Bankert said. "They were a huge help ... a significant part of the resolution of this case."

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.