Three men who are supposed to save lives and put out fires are charged with
an arson spree in Schuylkill County.
State police said when the trio were firefighters they set nine fires, over
a four-month period, causing more than $2 million in damage.
The three volunteer firefighters with the Friedensburg Fire Company have
been suspended and are facing felony charges.
Accused are Matthew Dixon, 18, of Friedensburg, Jonathan Eichert, 21, of
Orwigsburg and Shawn Hoy, 21, of Pine Grove.
One of the fires they are accused of setting leveled a barn last year near
Farmer Jim Birdsall owned the building. "It's senseless, for fun or
something. They get all excited about fire and they want to do more," he said.
"They are supposed to be protecting us and they're hurting us. It's a shock that
young people are getting involved in something bad."
A few miles away a home was also hit. Jeff Hill's 86-year-old mother was
inside the house when the fire started.
"They smashed out the window and threw a fire bomb in and luckily she was
sleeping on the couch and it woke her up," Hill said. He added the arsonists
were brazen, even pulling into the front yard before setting the house on
Police said when the suspects were done with the house they targeted the
"When they lit the barn they closed the doors so you couldn't see the fire
inside and then we saw the smoke coming out of the eves of the barn," Hill
The fire in the barn was contained but all of this has affected Hill's
"My mother is now in assisted living because she's very, very scared. She's
afraid to be alone now. She's 86 years old," said Hill.
A few miles away there is little left to a 300-year-old family barn which
was also targeted.
"I would hate to meet them," said barn owner Lamont Baver. "I don't know
what I'd do with them. I lost a lot of money, about $250,000, all the farm
equipment and the barn."
Troopers said they expect more arrests.
Court papers state officials at the Friedensburg Fire Department cooperated
fully with the state police investigation and the three firefighters admit to
They have been suspended from the fire company.