Police: 2 started house fire to collect insurance money

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HUNTINGDON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Two people in Huntingdon County face arson-related charges after state police say they used cooking oil to start a house fire to collect insurance money. 

Tina Sebolt,  48, and Brandon Crawford, 29, are charged with felony counts of arson, insurance fraud, risking a catastrophe and endangering the welfare of children along with 60 counts of recklessly endangering another person – one count for each of the volunteer firefighters who responded to the March 18 fire at their Shirley Township home, according to the charges. 

Firefighters were called out to the fire at the 11520 Juniata Avenue home at just 9 p.m. on March 18 and after receiving a tip the fire was intentionally set, the Mount Union Fire Chief contacted state police fire marshals the next day. 

BRANDON CRAWFORD

State police pointed out the home was insured for $323,000 with another $242,250 of insurance covering personal property. 

Sebolt told state police she was cooking chicken and the oil caught fire, but when she and Crawford were questioned again on Tuesday, investigators learned there had been two grease fires. 

Sebolt explained to state police she did start a fire while cooking chicken, but the flames went out on their own and she didn’t call the fire department. She then said the pan caught fire again when she put more oil in it and Crawford slid the pan around so oil splashed around and spread the flames to the walls, floor and cabinets, state police noted in the charges. 

Crawford told state police he wasn’t home when the first fire was set and confirmed for state police Sebolt had thrown water on it. He was home for the second cooking oil fire and he splashed the oil on top of the stove so the fire spread. He said he also lit a torch to burn a cabinet. Sebolt offered him $10,000 to help start the fire, Crawford told state police. 

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Both Sebolt and Crawford remain in Huntingdon County Jail with their bails each set at $250,000 cash. Their preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 31. 

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