Cops: Scottdale men set East Huntingdon house on fire
Two Scottdale men were arraigned on charges of arson, risking a catastrophe and related offenses for allegedly setting fire to a house where one of them used to live in rural East Huntingdon.
Austin A. Gemas, 18, and Johnathan M. Seger, 20, were arrested following a weeklong investigation by a state police fire marshal, Trooper David Vinkler. They are accused of setting fire to a vacant house at 1425 New Stanton-Ruffsdale Road at 12:30 a.m. Aug. 26.
Police said one firefighter had to be treated at a hospital for an injury while battling the blaze, which “endangered firefighters from East Huntingdon, New Stanton, Mt. Pleasant and Youngwood volunteer fire departments who responded.”
Vinkler alleges that Sager recently lived in the residence, and Gemas drove Sager to there in his 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier.
Sager then entered the home through a side door and climbed the stairs to a bedroom on the second floor where he used to sleep, Vinkler said in court documents.
“(Sager) then using a cigarette lighter and direct flame, ignited an old mattress inside the bedroom,” Vinkler wrote.
Police allege Sager then set fire to a trash bag in the kitchen and a love seat in a sitting room before fleeing to the car where Gemas was waiting.
Vinkler said the pair then drove past the house, owned by Russell Musgrove, several times “to make sure the residence was burning” before fleeing toward New Stanton.
Vinkler reported that when troopers went to Gemas’ home on Kelley Street in Scottdale on Saturday to look for the pair, they drove up in Gemas’ vehicle and agreed to be interviewed.
Police said the house was destroyed and estimated the loss at $100,000.
Gemas and Seger were arraigned before Night Court Judge Charles R. Conway and released on $100,000 unsecured bond pending a preliminary hearing Sept. 12 before District Judge Charles Moore.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.