Man charged with attempted homicide after firefighter is hurt in blaze

Police said John Sekerak drenched himself with gasoline and set fire to his house, injuring at least one firefighter

By Frank Warner
The Morning Call

KUTZTOWN, Pa. — A Kutztown area man who drenched himself with gasoline and set fire to his house Saturday morning, injuring at least one firefighter, has been charged with arson and attempted homicide, authorities said Thursday.

John M. Sekerak, 46, of the 15000 block of Kutztown Road, Route 222 in Maxatawny Township, started the fire and put propane tanks in his two-story brick house about 11:30 a.m., according to state police at Reading.

Early emergency radio reports from the scene indicated that a man was pouring gasoline on himself. Fire officials later radioed that the man was threatening to hurt firefighters who approached his burning house.

Trooper David Boehm said at least one firefighter was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. When the fire was brought under control, he said, the house was badly damaged, and Sekerak was gone.

"He wasn't there when we got there," Boehm said. "We had a big search, even brought in a helicopter. He turned up in Schuylkill County."

Sekerak slipped away on a bicycle, police later determined. He was arrested later Saturday in West Penn Township, about 15 miles north of his home.

Skerak faces charges of attempted homicide, arson, causing a catastrophe, aggravated assault, terroristic threats and reckless endangerment. He has not yet been arraigned. 

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