Police: Drunken man could have burned down Spring Grove-area home

Liz Evans Scolforo

A Spring Grove-area man who allegedly torched his girlfriend's sweater inside their attached garage risked burning down their home with a child inside, according to police.

Richard Ziegler

Richard Chester Ziegler, 52, of 1036 Sprenkle Road in Jackson Township, remains free on $10,000 unsecured bail. That means he didn't have to post any cash but could forfeit that amount if he misses court hearings.

He is charged with arson, risking a catastrophe, reckless endangerment, dangerous burning and reckless burning.

At Ziegler's preliminary hearing Wednesday, District Judge Thomas Reilly determined enough evidence exists for Ziegler to be tried in York County Court, according to court records. Formal court arraignment is set for May 6.

The allegations: Northern York County Regional Police said Ziegler was intoxicated about 6 p.m. Feb. 28 when he draped girlfriend Deborah Harris' sweater over a wicker chair inside their attached garage and torched it, charging documents state.

The garage is directly under their living room, police said.

When Harris returned home she found the sweater and the chair on fire inside the garage, police said. She took a quick photo of the blaze and tried to extinguish the flames with water.

But Ziegler "kept spraying Gunk Engine Degreaser on the flames to keep (the fire) going," documents state.

Garden hose: Harris dragged the chair into their driveway and used a garden hose to douse the fire, police said. By the time police and Nashville firefighters arrived, the fire was out, documents state.

Police said Ziegler risked starting their home on fire, and that Harris' 12-year-old son was inside the home, unaware of what was happening.

"The chair was near a wooden desk in the garage as well as two propane tanks ... and other flammable materials," documents state. Police noted that Gunk Engine Degreaser comes with a warning that the product should be kept away from heat, sparks and open flames.

The intoxicated Ziegler was arrested at the scene, documents state. He told officers he "didn't do anything" and asked why he was being arrested, according to documents.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at