Police: Arsonist set fire to apartment because he wanted to move
Lamont Wright allegedly told police he piled clothing in his bathtub and set fire to it, forcing over 100 residents to evacuate
By Joseph Kohut
SCRANTON, Pa. — A 22-year-old Scranton man whom police charged with setting fire to his downtown apartment and driving more than a 100 from their homes Sunday admitted to investigators he did it because he wanted to move, police said.
Lamont Wright, of Mulberry Tower Apartments, 499 Mulberry St., told Inspector Martin Monahan, the city fire marshal, he piled clothing in his bathtub and set fire to it, according to a criminal complaint. He disconnected his smoke alarm to prevent anyone from coming up to his fifth-floor apartment.
He let the fire burn for about 10 minutes before deciding to put it out but found it grew too big, police said.
Numerous 911 calls brought firefighters to the fifth floor of the downtown high-rise at 4:24 p.m. Lt. Brian Scott and his crew crawled through the smoke and found fire in Wright’s bathroom. The firefighters ran a hose to the apartment and worked to put it out. Crews checked other apartments for victims. By the elevator on that floor, they found a crying, wheelchair bound woman who needed help. Multiple residents were checked out for smoke inhalation.
The fire was contained to Wright’s apartment, but water damage spread to lower floors. The fire affected 203 people.
More than 100 were displaced and 37 people needed shelter for the night, Fire Chief Patrick DeSarno said. Crews returned to the high-rise Monday to begin clearing the floors. Officials said they hope to have the displaced residents back home soon.
With the fire out Sunday evening, city fire inspector Jim Lunney ruled out all accidental causes. After Monahan learned that the apartment was Wright’s, he called his cellphone and Wright agreed to speak with him.
Wright first said he fell asleep while cooking and awoke to the fire. He later admitted he set it, police said. The fifth-floor hallway was empty as he walked away from his apartment toward the fire exit, he told Monahan. The fire alarms blared.
Wright is charged with arson, criminal mischief and recklessly endangering another person. Bail and preliminary hearing information was not immediately available.
Copyright 2017 The Times-Tribune