HUNTINGDON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — An 18-year-old volunteer firefighter is facing over 60 felony charges for allegedly lighting nearly two dozen wildfires.
Adam Ewing, of Three Springs, was arrested by the Bureau of Forestry for setting 21 fires in Huntingdon County in February and March.
On Saturday, Feb. 11, a series of wildfires broke out in southern Huntingdon County. According to the criminal complaint, just before 2:30 p.m., crews were called out to a fire near Captain Jack’s Road. This wildfire consumed .51 acres of dead leaves and brush before firefighters were able to extinguish the flames.
About 20 minutes later, crews were dispatched for another fire along Old Tannery Road in the Saltillo Borough. Another .31 acres of dead leaves and brush were lost before firefighters were able to put it out, according to the affidavit.
On Feb. 14, investigators from the Bureau of Forestry visited the location of the two fires to find a cause. Investigators were able to determine that these fires had been maliciously lit with the intention to burn or spread, police noted in the charges filed.
At this point, investigators learned that Ewing was the one who called in the fire along Captain Jack’s Road, according to court documents.
Later on Feb. 14, multiple fire crews were called out after two wildfires broke out near Hamman Road and Sugar Grove Road in Cromwell Township. Investigators from the Bureau of Forestry responded to the fires and were able to confirm again that these fires were intentionally lit, according to the criminal complaint.
After these fires, Three Springs Volunteer Fire Company’s Chief Chris Grace informed the forestry investigators that Ewing was the first to arrive at the fire station for the call, according to the criminal complaint.
On Feb. 23 and 24, another 10 fires were reported and deemed incendiary by the forestry. At three of the fires, pieces of toilet paper with a rose pattern were found, police noted in the charges filed. Investigators went to Ewing’s home, where it was confirmed that the toilet paper at fire scenes matched the rose pattern of toilet paper at Ewing’s home.
On March 16, just after 5 p.m., crews responded to a wildfire burning above Uttley Street. A nearby resident told investigators that he saw Ewing walking down Uttley Street when he turned and entered a woodlot area, according to court documents. The witness continued by saying he saw Ewing exit the woods a short time later and the fire was discovered in the same area that Ewing had just come from.
Investigators mentioned that it’s common for arsonists to report their own fires to authorities and be present near the scene before, during or after the suppression efforts, according to the criminal complaint.
Ewing is behind bars in the Huntingdon County Prison after failing to post $500,000 bail. He’s facing 63 felony charges including 21 causing catastrophe charges, 21 risking catastrophe charges and 21 maliciously setting a fire to a forest.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 3.