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Lehighton man admits to setting 2 fires

Published October 18. 2013 05:01PM

A Lehighton man admitted Thursday in Carbon County court to setting two fires in his hometown, one at his sister's house, and another where he resided.

Russell Young, 45, pleaded to two counts of arson-danger of death or bodily harm, both felony ones, before President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II.

Nanovic deferred sentencing and ordered the adult probation office to prepare a presentence investigation report.

Young was charged with setting fires at his home, at 231 Carbon St., and at his sister's house, at 357 N. Third St., both in Lehighton, on the morning of Jan. 30. The home at 231 Carbon St. was destroyed, according to the police report, with damages to the back porch of the home at 357 N. Third St.

According to Lehighton officer Brian H. Biechy, the first fire was reported at 7 a.m. at 231 Carbon St. Neighbors at 229 Carbon St. called the county communications center to report they awoke and found their home full of smoke. When firefighters arrived they found flames on the first floor of Young's home and smoke pouring out from all sides of the structure.

Then at 7:05 a.m. the communications center received another fire call, this for 357 N. Third St. That report said someone was starting a fire on the back porch of the home.

Biechy, while responding to the first report, asked for the comm center to send backup as he now was told of the second fire. Franklin Township Police Chief Thomas Beltz and Officer Timothy Wuttke of the Nesquehoning police, responded to the N. Third St. fire.

Beltz was able to extinguish the fire at the Third Street address. Wuttke arrived on scene and found Young and took him into custody.

Found on Young and in the area were matches and lighter fluid. The matches Wuttke found on Young were similar to the ones Beltz found in the area of the porch fire.

Young told Nanovic that when he set the fire at his sister's home, he didn't think she was home and questioned the danger of death or bodily harm elements of the arson charge. Nanovic told him the elements also include any firefighters, ambulance personnel, other emergency responders, or police who respond to such fires as being in danger.

Young has been in prison since his arrest in January.

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