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Man arrested for allegedly trying to set home with 2 children in it on fire in Allegheny Co.

VERONA — A man was arrested for allegedly trying to set a home with two children in it on fire after his girlfriend tried to kick him out.

On December 26, 2021, at 12:52 a.m., Penn Hills police officers were sent to 153 Suncrest Drive for reports of a man who had poured gasoline in the basement and was attempting to light the home on fire.

Allegheny County dispatch updated the officers that a man and woman were fighting in the basement, according to court documents.

Once officers got there, everyone inside of the home was safely outside.

Police said that the original call was placed to 911 by an 11-year-old girl. She told officers, “he’s around back, go around back!” Officers then went to the back of the house and saw a man and woman at the threshold of the rear basement door.

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One of the officers immediately smelled a strong odor of gasoline as well as the odor of something burning, court documents stated.

The officer then removed the man, later identified as Quenton Hughes, from the basement and detained him outside. The woman, later identified as Jacqueline Smothers, was directed to the front of the home.

Additional officers arrived at the house and spoke with Smothers. She told them that she is the homeowner and detailed events to the police.

Smothers stated that she picked up Hughes that morning and brought him to her home. She said they were arguing over infidelities Hughes admitted to, police said.

She told him to leave the house as she no longer wanted him there. She and Hughes then went into the basement so he could gather his clothing and place them in a black garbage bag. According to the criminal complaint, while doing so, she watched as Hughes walked to the gasoline-powered lawn mower that was sitting by the rear basement door.

She said that he removed the gasoline cap to the lawn mower, and turned the mower on its side. This caused gasoline to spill out of the gasoline tank, and onto the basement floor. Smothers immediately smelled the gasoline and realized what had happened.

She removed clothing from the garbage bag, and placed this clothing over the spilled gasoline, in an attempt to absorb the gasoline from the floor.

She then told him to leave again. Smothers told police that Hughes held a lighter in his hand and said to her, “I don’t give a f*** who’s in this house, I’ma light this b**** up!” Hughes then set the gasoline and clothing on fire.

Smothers screamed for her daughter to call 911 for help.

She continued to attempt to put the fire out with the clothes. Smothers’ daughter was able to get her other daughter, a 2-year-old, out of the house safely.

After speaking with Smothers, police went to the rear of the home and saw the lawn mower sitting outside, several feet from the rear basement door. They saw the gasoline cap removed from the lawn mower’s gasoline tank. It also appeared as though the gasoline tank was empty.

Officers said that they could also smell a strong odor of gasoline. There appeared to be fresh gasoline spilled around the lawn mower. Beyond the basement door, Police saw freshly spilled gasoline, and a burn mark near the door. The burn mark was on the floor.

Officers also noticed a pile of gasoline-saturated clothing next to these floor burn marks. Next to the clothes was charred clothing that had been previously set on fire and extinguished.

The fire marshal then arrived to process what happened. He saw gasoline spilled inside the home next to the rear basement door and confirmed there were burn marks near the rear door on the concrete floor.

The fire marshal said that he believes that the fire was started with an accelerant. He also confirmed the clothes next to the rear door were soaked in gasoline and had singe marks from where they were burned. He collected several samples from the scene to be used as evidence.

Hughes was placed under arrest and transported to Penn Hills Police Department. Once at the station, Hughes was searched prior to being placed into a holding cell. Officers recovered a beige lighter in his front right pants pocket. The lighter was taken and submitted as evidence to Penn Hills Police Department.