A Johnstown man was cited for driving over a fire hose which police said hampered firefighters battling a house fire in Upper Yoder Township.

Township police cited Frederick A. Smith, 74, of the

200 block of Hereford Lane, with unauthorized driving over a fire hose. The fire happened March 28 in the 700 block of Goucher Street. 

Smith is accused of causing $1,720 damage when he drove his Kia sedan over a 100-foot section of hose.

Upper Yoder Township police Chief Donald Hess said Smith should not have been out driving around.

Residents were advised in March to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic except for essential travel. Cambria County was placed under a stay-at-home order on April 1.

“He should have been at home,” Hess said. “He was out joyriding.”

A lightning strike is blamed for torching the one-story home, chasing two occupants who escaped safely. 

The two people said lightning shook the entire house and not long after flames were seen entering the living room where they were and spread quickly.

Hess said Smith damaged a supply line that was feeding water to firefighters.

“It caused a total failure,” he said. “They had to run another line. It absolutely caused a delay in battling the fire.” 

The house was destroyed, Hess said.

Hess said he will ask District Judge Susan Gindlesperger, of Stonycreek Township, to order Smith to pay the fire company restitution.

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5061. Follow him on Twitter @PatBuchnowskiTD.

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