WASHINGTON COUNTY, Pa. - A former Roscoe woman who helped her neighbors out of a burning apartment building in June is now accused of starting the fire.
Tina M. Koskoski, 46, of 124 Prospect Ave., Apt. A, Charleroi, is facing 179 charges, including arson, for the June 22 fire at the Central Apartments, 600 Furlong Ave., Roscoe.
Koskoski allegedly told investigators she set a mattress in the basement on fire because she was frustrated over her "nosey neighbors" and purported drug use in the three-story building.
Koskoski is charged with the following felony charges: 85 counts of causing or risking catastrophe, one count of criminal mischief and four counts of arson and related offenses.
She is also charged with 85 misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person for allegedly placing the tenants and the first responders at the scene in danger, and four counts of simple assault for the injuries two tenants and two firefighters.
RRESA Regional police Officer-in-Charge Mark Stewart filed the charges Friday at the Charleroi office of Magisterial District Judge Larry Hopkins.
Koskoski allegedly confessed to the crime during an Oct. 18 interview with state police fire marshal Trooper Steve Thompson and RESA officer Al Marcy at the Charleroi police department.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Koskoski told Thompson and Marcy she went into the basement to check the electrical meter after she noticed the bathroom lights in her apartment flickering.
"I went to the basement. I was frustrated over nosey neighbors and all the drugs going in/out of the building. I was not wanting to hurt anyone. I lit a mattress on fire," she was quoted as saying in the affidavit.
She then told police she "alerted everyone" to get out of the building, police said.
As firefighters battled the blaze that night, Koskoski told reporters she was the "first one who found the fire."
"I was thinking, 'Oh my God,' the building is going to catch on fire, I'm not going to have a place to live," Koskoski said at the scene of the fire.
Tenants Larry Hines and Robert Rohland, as well as Stockdale firefighters Jessie Stringer, and Marcy, were injured during the fire. About 30 tenants escaped unharmed. Several other firefighters required medical treatment for heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation.
Marcy, who also serves as a Stockdale firefighter, was helping battle the blaze that night.
One dog and seven cats died in the blaze.
Firefighters were called to the scene at 9:30 p.m. and spent two hours battling the blaze. The basement runs the length of the building, and some of the areas were only accessible through a crawlspace.
Following her arraignment before Magisterial District Judge Jay Weller on Friday night, Koskoski was remanded to the Washington County Correctional Facility after she was unable to post $50,000 bond.
Weller scheduled a preliminary hearing for 10 a.m. Nov. 6 in Central court.
Koskoski told Weller she and her 19-year-old son have been living with two friends in Charleroi since her husband kicked her out of their house following an argument Oct. 5.
Koskoski said she suffers from a mental illness that causes her to "disassociate."
She began to sob as she told Weller, "I'm scared! I want to go home so I can take my medication!
"Put me in psych ward, please! I can't go to jail, I'm claustrophobic!"
Weller told Koskoski she would get her medicationin jail.
"With all due respect, I think you're a threat to yourself," Weller said. "You're a threat to the community."
The Roscoe apartment complex, owned by Edward T. Rex, has since been condemned by the borough's code enforcement officer due to the damages it sustained in the June fire, as well as a fire on Nov. 14, 2012.
Thompson ruled the June fire an arson.
He said the cause of last year's fire was electrical-related. It is believed a faulty space heater caused that fire.
Koskoski, who at the time was known as Tina Flynn, pleaded guilty on Oct. 18, 2007, to two counts of dangerous burning for a fire in Charleroi. She was sentenced to five years probation by Washington County Judge Janet Moschetta Bell.
She was charged by Charleroi police for her alleged roles in fires on July, 18, 2006, and March 1, 2007. Arson charges were withdrawn against Flynn in those cases.
Roscoe Mayor Tom Wilkinson, who also serves as Stockdale's fire chief, commended the RESA police, firefighters and investigators involved with the case.
"It really bothers me that someone could do something like this and put so many lives in danger," Wilkinson said.
The mayor said the borough may use future grant money to help offset the costs of having the building demolished.
"I want to see it gone as soon as possible," he said.
This article was written by Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE.
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