Ferndale fire

A fire inside this vacant Vickroy Avenue home Saturday, April 3, 2021, also damaged several others in Ferndale.

Four girls have been charged with arson, accused of setting a fire that destroyed an unoccupied Ferndale Borough house last week and sent a police officer and a firefighter to the hospital, Ferndale police Chief John Blake said Friday.

The girls – a 12-year-old from Richland School District, two 14-year-olds from Greater Johnstown School District and a 14-year-old from Ferndale Area School District – face multiple charges of felony arson, he said.

The girls allegedly started the fire inside a duplex in the 500 block of Vickroy Avenue at 5:41 p.m. on April 3, using numerous aerosol sprays, including bug spray and Lysol, Blake said.

The girls became suspects after reportedly posting a Snapchat video showing themselves starting the fire, he said.

“They placed a shoebox on the couch and threw lit pieces of paper into the box that had been sprayed with accelerant,” Blake said.

Photographs surfaced of the girls when they returned to the scene a short time later to watch the fire, the chief said.

Police said they asked the girls why they set the fire.

“They said they were bored,” Blake said.

An Upper Yoder Township police officer was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, where he was treated for smoke inhalation. An Upper Yoder Township firefighter was treated at the hospital for a medical issue. Both were later released.

Neighbors on both sides of the duplex fled after the fire spread, damaging their homes. No residents suffered injuries.

The juveniles were released into the custody of their parents or guardians.

They will answer the charges in the juvenile court system in Cambria County.

Blake said state police fire marshal Trooper Keith Sobecki and insurance representatives are still calculating damage estimates.

Blake said he expects the amount of restitution to be large.

“I’m just thankful the injuries weren’t more severe, or these girls could be facing homicide charges,” Blake said.

The four juveniles could face more charges in connection with another attempted arson.

It’s believed the juveniles tried to set fire to a mattress inside a house on nearby Station Street just before the Vickroy Avenue fire.

Ferndale police and the fire marshal are continuing the investigation and charges are pending, Blake said.

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5061. Follow him on Twitter @PatBuchnowskiTD.

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