Last updated: February 20. 2013 3:40AM - 486 Views

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WEST PITTSTON – Three police officers braved heavy black smoke to search for people inside a burning apartment building that was allegedly set ablaze by Kennith Rogers Searfoss, according to charges filed Friday.

Searfoss, 28, was charged with intentionally setting a fire inside his apartment at 210 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, on Jan. 19. Searfoss allegedly told police he set the fire because he wanted to harm himself.

This was all mental, suicidal type of thing, Searfoss told District Judge Joseph Carmody at his arraignment.

Searfoss was charged with three counts of arson and related offenses, reckless burning, criminal mischief and cruelty to animals. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $50,000 bail.

A cat perished in the blaze, police said.

According to the criminal complaint:

Wyoming police Capt. Christopher Mercavitch was dispatched to an apartment building at 223 Wyoming Ave. for a report of a drunken male when he learned another apartment building, at 210 Wyoming Ave., was on fire. A bystander told Mercavitch that the man who set the blaze was inside an apartment at 223 Wyoming Ave.

Mercavitch, Forty Fort police Officer Michael Fuller and West Wyoming police Officer Curtis Nocera searched several apartments for tenants. One tenant was saved by the officers.

State police deputy fire marshal Trooper Tim Young determined the fire was set in two places inside Searfoss' apartment: in the kitchen and living room.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled on Feb. 6.

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