A fire Monday morning that severely damaged a residence east of Erie, forcing occupants to flee and killing four pets, was intentionally started, authorities say.
The person Erie police charge with setting the fire, 41-year-old townsman David C. Collier, was taken into custody Tuesday night, according to Erie police arrest records. ‘Erie.
Collier was expected to be arraigned Wednesday morning on criminal charges filed Wednesday morning. He faces counts of first-degree arson and aggravated arson, one count of second-degree arson and third-degree felony counts of burning. carelessness and aggravated animal cruelty.
Police charge Collier with burning down a single-family residence at 445 E. 24th St. around 12:10 p.m. Monday, causing heavy damage to the home. The fire spread to a nearby house to the east and a parked sport utility vehicle to the west, causing significant damage to both.
More: Erie fire, police investigating cause of East 24th Street fire that damaged 2 homes and a vehicle
Shawn McGarvie, who lives at 445 E. 24th St., told the Erie Times-News on Monday that he was making a DoorDash delivery when a neighbor alerted him to the fire and he returned running home. McGarvie said four to five people, adults and children, were inside the home at the time and got out, but two dogs and two cats were lost in the fire.
Firefighters from the Erie Fire Bureau arrived at the residence to find heavy fire on all three stories of the three-story structure, officials said Monday. Crews were first forced to fight the fire from outside the house before knocking down the flames enough to get inside.
Firefighters remained on site for about five hours on Monday.
An investigation and charges
Erie police cordoned off the front of the house with crime scene tape and posted a patrol outside the residence after the fire as city police and Fire Bureau inspectors d ‘Erie began researching the possible cause of the fire.
Erie Police Chief Dan Spizarny said Tuesday the blaze appeared suspicious. He said a video camera in the area showed someone near the house at the time of the fire. The city fire department’s accelerant-sniffing dog, Horus, was also alerted to potential accelerators when the dog visited the property as part of the investigation, Spizarny said. Samples were taken from the property and sent for testing, he said.
Investigators continued Tuesday to interview potential witnesses to the fire and were looking for additional surveillance video in the area of the fire, Spizarny said.
According to information in the probable cause affidavit filed with Collier’s criminal complaint, doorbell video that investigators reviewed showed a person next to the porch at 445 E. 24th St., where the fire started. is declared, a few minutes before the fire breaks out. A small fire could be seen on part of the porch, and the fire grew within minutes, according to the affidavit.
Investigators wrote in the affidavit that Collier’s name was mentioned as a possible suspect. Further investigation revealed that Collier had stayed at a residence on East Fifth Street with a woman, and that a day before the fire, Collier and the woman had argued over accusations that the woman could have having a relationship with two people who lived at the East 24th Street Residence, according to information in the affidavit.
During the argument, Collier allegedly made a statement about driving to a location outside of Erie and burning down another residence, investigators wrote in the affidavit.
Police obtained video footage from other city cameras which they wrote of showing Collier leaving the East Fifth Street residence late Sunday evening and eventually walking towards 445 E. 24th Street just before the fire was reported . The video then showed Collier walking away from the fire and he appeared to be wearing a rag, according to information in the affidavit.
Investigators also wrote that they reviewed a text conversation in which Collier allegedly had a rag soaked in flammable liquid and said he could go to jail.
Other fires on Monday
The fire on East 24th Street was one of three house fires that Erie firefighters responded to Monday morning. Authorities don’t believe the fires are related, Erie Chief Fire Inspector Don Sauer said.
The second fire was reported at 7:06 a.m. Monday at 250 E. 21st St. The fire started on the second floor of the two-family residence and caused heavy damage to the second floor, Sauer said.
That fire spread to a nearby home at 260 E. 21st St. and caused damage to it, Sauer said.
At 9:51 a.m. Monday, Erie firefighters were dispatched to 2810 Ash St. to battle a fire that broke out at a two-story single-family home. According to Sauer, a woman was sleeping upstairs when she woke up with a beep and texted her husband, who was outside. He walked in and found a fire in the living room and managed to get the woman and a dog out of the house, Sauer said.
One of the family’s pets did not survive the fire, he said.
The fire caused damage throughout the first floor and smoke damage to the second floor, Sauer said.
The causes of both fires are still under investigation, he said.
Contact Tim Hahn at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ETNhahn.
This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Erie police charge town man with burning down East 24th Street home.