Altoona woman faces felony charges for attempted arson, officials say


BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — An Altoona woman faces felony charges after officials said they found her half-naked in her apartment, burning items on her stove as the apartment filled with smoke.

Billie Jo Desch, 53, was standing by the stove in her apartment at the 4000 block of 6th Avenue Oct. 9 when Altoona police showed up, according to charges filed. She was trying to fill cigarettes and was burning items on the stove, which had all four burners on when they walked in.

As police were escorting Desch out of the apartment to take her to the ambulance, they heard her say “I hope they just let that ****** burn,” the affidavit noted.

The landlord said another resident of the apartment building reported that smoke was coming from Desch’s apartment. He confronted Desch at her door, asking her what was going on, and she told him she was “partying.” He told police he turned the burners off before calling 911.

Police noted there was melted plastic on the stove that smelled and appeared to have been burned as well as several items burned in the sink. Additionally, several items such as paper towels and curtains were directly to the left of the stove that could’ve easily caught fire.

A fire inspector arrived and said without intervention, the apartment building would have burned down in a short period of time.

The apartment building has three additional apartments that were occupied at the time of the incident.

Desch faces charges including attempted arson, risking catastrophe and recklessly endangering another person.

An unsecured bail of $10,000 was set, and she has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Nov. 3.

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