Lower Paxton man charged in arson spree

Jake T. Reader (submitted)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A former volunteer firefighter has been arrested for setting four fires in Lower Paxton Township since April, including one that damaged several homes.

Jake T. Reader, 21, of Lower Paxton Township, is charged with four felony counts each of arson endangering people, arson endangering occupied buildings, and risking a catastrophe. He also faces three misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment.

A fire on April 17 caused major damage to four townhouses in the 100 block of Wyndham Way, in Lower Paxton Township.

Reader is accused of setting to townhouses in the 100 block of Wyndham Way on the night of April 17. Four homes sustained major damage and several families were displaced by the 3-alarm blaze. No one was injured.

Township police said Reader also set a May 5 fire at a building used as a daycare in the 4900 block of Berkley Street. No one was in the building, and the flames were quickly spotted by someone who called 911. The fire was extinguished after causing minor damage.

Reader is additionally accused of setting fires May at two different townhouses, also in the 100 block of Wyndham Way. Both fires were quickly spotted and extinguished. No one was injured.

Reader was a volunteer firefighter at the Colonial Park Fire Company. He was dismissed by the fire company last year for reasons unrelated to the fires.

Reader was placed in Dauphin County Prison on $2 million bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 6.

Colonial Park Fire Company in a statement said: “The reprehensible actions of this individual and his former membership with our company does
not represent this company or the fire service as a whole. Our mission has not changed. The Colonial Park Fire Company will continue to serve the community and its citizens with honor, dignity, and devotion.”

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