Accused arsonist’s PFA hearing postponed

A protection-from-abuse hearing for Edward W. Houck, the Logan Township man charged with the Easter day fire at his Frankstown Road home, was postponed Thursday so witnesses can be called.

Houck, 50, and his wife have been separated for a couple of years, and a dispute over how to divide the marital property was scheduled to go before a divorce court master for review on April 3.

Houck is alleged to have set fire to the house and garage and cut down several trees at 981 Frankstown Road. He was also in possession of a firearm when police and fire personnel came to the residence.

He recently waived charges of arson and other offenses to the Blair County Court of Common Pleas.

He allegedly has come to an agreement under which he will serve a year in prison for the incident.

A week ago, Houck was released from the Blair County Prison after posting $35,000 bail.

On Thursday he went to court because his wife has filed a protection-from-abuse complaint against him, citing the fire and a threat Houck allegedly made against her late last year.

She was granted a temporary PFA last week.

Houck’s attorney, Theodore Krol, told Blair County Senior Judge Thomas G. Peoples that he wanted a hearing on the PFA request at which point the wife’s attorney, Joel Seeyle, asked for a continuance, noting he wanted to summon several witnesses on the wife’s behalf.

Peoples said he would consult with the Blair County Court Administrator’s office to determine a date for the hearing.

Krol contended the PFA proceeding was not a criminal matter, but Peoples noted the crimes with which Houck has been charged.

After a brief appearance in court, Krol said the threat Houck is to have issued toward his wife occurred months ago. He said there is an attempt to use the recent criminal charges to justify a PFA.

Houck appeared in court Thursday, walking gingerly and using a cane. Krol said Houck has a chronic back problem.

Also Thursday, Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva filed a temporary order granting Houck’s wife exclusive possession of the former marital home, a request made by Seeyle to protect the home from further damage.