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Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Police: Firefighter paid friend $200 to set fire
Posted: Sunday, September 29, 2013
A 19-year-old Bensalem probationary firefighter faces arson charges after police say he paid a friend $200 to set a fire in the laundry room of an occupied apartment building after firefighters failed to respond to the first fire they set.
Bensalem police connected Alberto Acevedo, of Knights Road, with the Aug. 20 fire that evacuated 80 people at the Bucks Meadow apartments after his friend, who was arrested last week on burglary and arson charges, implicated him, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The fire was reported around 11:30 p.m. in Building 1 of the Knights Road complex.
A police officer who arrived first at the scene tried to enter the laundry room but the door was locked. He forced open a locked window and climbed inside the burning room where he found thick paper and other materials on fire, according to police.
The officer stomped on the fire and used a trash can to smother the flames. He then filled the trashcan with water from a laundry tub to extinguish the fire. Meanwhile, police evacuated the building and fire departments arrived on scene.
No one was injured in the fire. A subsequent investigation determined that the fire was intentionally set and resulted in $2,000 in damages.
The case remained unsolved until last week, when police interviewed Robert Schaeffer, 19, in connection with a burglary. During the interview, Schaeffer admitted setting fires, two in the laundry room at Bucks Meadow a month earlier.
He told police that he set trash and other debris on fire, left the laundry room, then called 911 to report the fire, according to the affidavit. He and Acevedo then walked to a nearby shopping center to watch firefighters extinguish the fire, police said.
Schaeffer also said that Acevedo gave him $200 to set the fire after the fire department didn’t respond to a fire the two men had set in the same laundry room earlier that day, according to police.
On Thursday, Bensalem police interviewed Acevedo, who admitted he was with Schaeffer drinking Baccardi Limon Rum the afternoon of Aug. 20 in the laundry room of Building 1 at Bucks Meadow. Acevedo gave Schaeffer his black undershirt and watched him douse it with the rum and place the shirt and other items into a dryer and set them on fire, according to court documents.
The two ran away and waited for the fire department to respond, but the fire burned slowly, Acevedo told police, according to court documents. No smoke showed for 15 minutes.
A short time after the smoke appeared, an apartment maintenance man discovered the fire and extinguished it, the affidavit said.
Later that day, Schaeffer told Acevedo that he was going to start another fire in the laundry room and “cause a wreck,” court documents said. Acevedo never made any attempt to contact emergency services after the fires were set, police said.
Acevedo is a probationary member of the Eddington Fire Co., which serves the Bensalem area including the Bucks Meadow apartments. He is also a former member of the Third District Fire Co. in Bristol Township, police said.
Acevedo was arraigned Thursday before Penndel District Judge Daniel Baranoski on arson and related charges. He was sent to Bucks County prison in lieu of 10 percent of $75,000 bail.
Baranoski arraigned Schaeffer Sept. 21 on arson, burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment charges. He also is in Bucks County prison in lieu of 10 percent of $75,000 bail.