4 girls, 12 and 14 years old, accused of setting house fire
FERNDALE, Pa. — Four teenage girls ranging in age from 12 to 14 have been arrested on juvenile court charges of setting a fire that destroyed an unoccupied western Pennsylvania house earlier this month, sending a police officer and a firefighter to the hospital, authorities said.
Police in the suburban Johnstown borough of Ferndale say a 12-year-old from Richland School District, two 14-year-olds from the Greater Johnstown School District and a 14-year-old from Ferndale Area School District face multiple charges of felony arson as well as causing catastrophe, trespassing and endangering another person.
Chief John Blake said the girls are accused of starting the April 3 fire in a duplex using numerous aerosol sprays, including bug spray and Lysol.
"They placed a shoebox on the couch and threw lit pieces of paper into the box that had been sprayed with accelerant," Blake said.
The girls became suspects after reportedly posting a Snapchat video showing themselves starting the fire, Blake said. Photographs surfaced of the girls when they returned to the scene a short time later to watch the fire, he said.
Asked by police why they set the blaze, the girls "said they were bored," Blake said.
An Upper Yoder Township police officer was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation and an Upper Yoder Township firefighter was treated at the hospital for a medical issue, authorities said. Both were later released.
The juveniles were released into the custody of their parents or guardians and their cases will be heard in Cambria County juvenile court.
Blake said a state police fire marshal and insurance representatives are still calculating damage estimates, but he expects the amount of restitution to be large.
"I'm just thankful the injuries weren't more severe, or these girls could be facing homicide charges," he said.
The chief said authorities are also looking at the four in connection with another attempted arson earlier in the day, when a nearby home was broken into and a mattress set afire.