Abington police have arrested a teenager they say has confessed to deliberately setting a barn on fire this week.
Abington Deputy Police Chief Chris Cutter said that 18-year-old Michael Arienti confessed to starting the fire on Wednesday in an abandoned barn at the former Griffin’s Dairy.
Cutter said a witness told police they had overheard kids in the area saying that Arienti was claiming responsibility for the fire. During an initial interview, Arienti told police that he had tossed a lit cigarette into a barn on the property but did not intend to start a fire.
But, Cutter said, after they brought Arienti in for a second interview, he confessed to lighting the fire.
“He actually grabbed some hay–there’s a lot of remnants of hay in the area–and he grabbed a clump of that and lit that on fire near one of the main structures in the barn,” said Cutter.
According Cutter, it didn’t take long for officials responding to the fire to realize something was amiss.
“Upon our initial arrival officers spoke with Chief John Nuttal of the Abington fire department, who in his opinion thought the fire appeared a little suspicious,” said Cutter.
Abington Fire Chief John Nuttal said it wasn’t difficult to spot this fire as a potential case of arson.
“There were no electrical connections in that area, there was no lightning, there were no other obvious mechanical issues or motors–anything that could have sparked the fire accidentally,” said Nuttal. “So, when you start to remove all the other possible causes, it starts to point that perhaps it was set by a person.”
Fire crews quickly put the fire out and there were no injuries and only minor damage.
Arienti was arrested Thursday night, and then quickly posted $500 bail and was released. He faces charges of malicious burning of a building, breaking and entering in the daytime and destruction of property over $250.
Deputy Chief Cutter said an arson conviction can carry a sentence of upwards of 20 years in state prison.
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