Man Charged With Setting Fire To Apartment Building

August 31, 2018

A 38-year-old Bethlehem man faces a long list of felonies for setting fire to a Scranton apartment building several months ago, police said.

Jody Tighe, 256 North St., was arrested in the Allentown area and arraigned Thursday for aggravated arson and numerous other arson related offenses, according to a criminal complaint filed by Inspector Martin Monahan, the city’s fire marshal.

The “intense” fire at 640 Willow St. around 2:41 a.m. on Feb. 19 displaced seven people, including an off-duty Scranton police officer, and left a city fire fighter injured, authorities said. Fire Chief Pat DeSarno said at the time crews had to extinguish “heavy, heavy” flames.

Detectives believe that the arson was Tighe’s retaliation against a rival love interest. The off-duty police officer, Jamie Smith, was not the intended target, police said.

Firefighter Tim O’Connor got lost inside the building and became trapped, according to an affidavit. Others rescued him. Another firefighter, Robert Gavern, injured his lower back, left shoulder and right leg fighting the blaze and could not return to work for several months.

Resident Morgan Kane suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to a burn unit near Allentown.

A camera attached to a garage across the street from the rear of the building showed someone carrying some type of “box, bag or container” while walking toward the building.

At 2:41 a.m., the light from the fire is seen on the video. At 2:42 a.m., the video picked up the man, later identified as Tighe, running from the scene with his left shoe and lower leg on fire.

Police checked through nearby hospitals and urgent care centers but didn’t get any leads on burn victims.

Police learned later that Tighe had burns after the fire. Additionally, his DNA from earlier paternity tests matched DNA results found on a gasoline-soaked scarf found close to the scene.

Tighe is in the Lackawanna County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 10.

Contact the writer: jkohut@timesshamrock.com, 570-348-9144; @jkohutTT on Twitter

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