W.Va. man charged for Halloween prank that drew large fire, police response

The man allegedly set up a fog machine and told a friend a mom and baby were in danger


William Dean
The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A prank gone seriously wrong.

That's how Brett Brown, 28, described the incident that led to him being charged with obstructing a fire marshal and reporting a false alarm of fire in Morgantown Municipal Court during an interview with Morgantown fire marshal Capt. Ken Tennant.

Just before midnight on Halloween, Christian Alicea called 911 to report a fire near Arch Street but said he didn't know the exact address, according to a criminal complaint. He said a person called him, said a bunch of gasoline was poured inside an apartment and it was on fire.

Alicea also said the man was able to get the cat out of the house but a baby and woman were still inside.

According to the complaint, Alicea said he called 911 after Brown FaceTimed him because he was concerned the mother and baby were trapped inside.

Morgantown Police arrived first and found a building on Dewey Street with smoke coming from a window in the rear of the building, the complaint said. A woman and her baby were found and removed from the apartment.

Firefighters and police then discovered the smoke was being artificially generated by a fog machine, according to the complaint.

While emergency units were still on the scene, Brown walked up to the front of the building and introduced himself as one of the occupants of the apartment, the complaint said. Tennant and a state fire marshal both questioned Brown for several minutes.

The complaint said Brown gave "inconsistent statements " about what happened. He told the fire marshals he FaceTimed Alicea to show him the fog machine and denied telling him gas had been poured and the apartment was on fire.

"Brown appeared visibly agitated and questioned the authority of the 911 center to bring so many fire trucks and police cars to a false call, " the complaint said.

On Nov. 10, Tennant interviewed Brown, who admitted the incident was "a prank gone seriously wrong, " according to the complaint. Brown said he was sorry so many fire and police units responded.

He admitted he told Alicea gas had been poured and he said "this is the end, the cat made it out, but mom and baby are asleep, " the complaint said.

Brown is free on $250 bond.

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(c)2020 The Dominion Post (Morgantown, W.Va.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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