Police: Man set multiple fires near buildings in Carlisle Saturday

Police: Man set multiple fires near buildings in Carlisle Saturday


A Carlisle man faces charges after police said he set multiple fires near buildings Saturday, including one where an American flag was used as kindling for a fire.

John Mark Petonyak II, 41, was charged with two felony counts of arson, five felony counts of reckless burning, two felony counts of risking catastrophe, three felony counts of criminal mischief, one misdemeanor count of desecration of the flag and three summary counts of dangerous burning after the Saturday incidents.

Carlisle Police said they were called at 2:05 a.m. Saturday to Little Caesar’s Pizza on East High Street for a reported Dumpster fire that was discovered by state troopers in the area. While on the scene, police discovered an additional fire that was set on a concrete landing in a walkway nearby, within the same business complex.

Police said that at 2:22 a.m., an additional fire was reported at Pennsylvania Counseling Services at Greystone Road and East High Street, and borough police, state troopers and North Middleton Township Police responded. They found several large, plastic recycling containers on fire next to the building.

The fire had spread and caused damage to the structure, according to police. Officers and responding fire departments were able to contain the fire to the exterior of the building, police said.

Carlisle Police’s detective division began its arson investigation and determined the fires were intentionally set.

Police said a third attempt to start a fire was later discovered at Hoffman Funeral Home and Crematory at 2020 West Trindle Road. Police said someone used pieces of an American flag in an attempt to set fire to one of the vehicles owned by the funeral home. Pieces of the flag were placed in the fuel opening of the vehicle and set on fire, though the fire did not spread to the fuel tank, according to police.

Police obtained surveillance video from businesses and established a description of the suspect. A man fitting that description was seen at 10:34 a.m. Saturday walking in the area of Hoffman Funeral Home.

Police located the man and identified him as Petonyak. He was taken into custody and admitted to setting the fires, according to police.

Petonyak was arraigned Saturday night by Magisterial District Judge Mark Martin, who set bail at $90,000, which he was unable to post. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 22.

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