For the second time in two weeks, authorities arrested someone connected to the Pomeroy Fire Company for arson.Police allege James "JR" Samuels, 22, of Parkesburg, set ablaze an unoccupied house next door to his home Wednesday night.
It appears at one point Samuels was a firefighter with Pomeroy. But, it is unclear what his status with the department is today.
While older versions of the company's website listed Samuels as a firefighter, the firefighter roster on the site Friday evening did not include Samuels.
Pomeroy Fire Chief Jeff Sellers strongly denied Samuels was a firefighter. He said he was a social member of the company and helped with fundraising.
"He was never a member, he never even took a class," said Sellers.
Sellers had no comment on the arrest, other than that he was surprised.
One fear of the chief is that the Pomeroy Fire Company is unjustifiably attached to the arrests. He said he did not want it to look as if a second firefighter from the company was under arrest for arson.
Police allege Samuels set a house on fire about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 400 block of Strasburg Road. The unoccupied house is in foreclosure and owned by Bank of America, police said.
The arrest comes two weeks after Pomeroy volunteer firefighter Robert Bruce Tribbett Jr., 24, of Sadsburyville, was arrested for setting homes and sheds on fire in Sadsbury.
For Wednesday's fire, police said it was Samuels who called 911 for help.
On scene, Samuels reportedly told police he saw a black man in the area when the fire started. On Thursday, police asked Samuels to write out a written statement at the station describing what he saw.
But, Parkesburg Detective Jerry Davis said the story Samuels told police Thursday was not the same story he told investigators at the scene the night before.
"He comes in the next day and he tells us something completely different," Davis said. After police challenged the inconsistencies, Davis said Samuels confessed to setting the fire.
Samuels allegedly used debris in the rear of the house and a lighter to set the fire, Davis said. The house suffered between $5,000 and $10,000 in damage to the outside of the home, Davis said.
"The whole back of the house melted off," Davis said.
Police charged Samuels Thursday with arson, reckless endangerment, risking a catastrophe, recklessly endangering firefighter personnel and criminal mischief in excess of $5,000.
Samuels was arraigned Friday morning before Magisterial District Judge Nancy Gill in Parkesburg and then taken to Chester County Prison in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Tribbett's preliminary hearing is slated for noon on Sept. 25 before Gill. His father and brother are firefighters at Pomeroy.
State police fire marshals arrested Tribbett Aug. 22 after locating his DNA on a homemade fire-starting device - matches taped to a cigarette - at the scene of an attempted arson Aug. 8 in Sadsbury, according to court records.