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Lehigh County man receives probation for blaze in West Penn Township

A Lehigh County man received three years’ probation for setting his property ablaze in West Penn Township last year.

President Judge William Baldwin sentenced Hiram Thomas Dale, 77, Coopersburg, on Monday after he agreed to a negotiated plea agreement where he pleaded guilty to charges of risking a catastrophe, a third-degree felony, and recklessly endangering another person, a second-degree misdemeanor. He received three years probation for the first charge and two for the second to run concurrent, First Assistant District Attorney Mike Stine said.

The sentence is effective immediately.

Charges of arson, aggravated arson and aggravated assault were withdrawn at the Magisterial District Justice level in May.

Hale admitted to West Penn Township Police Nov. 24 he ran into problems trying to renovate the building at 521 Golf Road. Police, fire companies and emergency personnel from the surrounding area responded to the scene of the Villas Crossing Gold Course at 10:55 a.m., Oct. 29, 2020. The call came in as a burn barrel on fire that ignited an adjacent building. Dale was on scene.

His story changed several times about the fire before telling police “he lit the fuel oil rags” at two locations in the building, which did not have insurance.