CLAYSBURG - Hours after a Claysburg apartment fire on Tuesday that forced five families from their homes and injured a police officer, Greenfield Township police arrested a tenant who could soon face more charges for past crimes, officers said.
Bryan Donald Flickinger, 23, a Greenfield Apartments tenant with a Pittsburgh-area address, allegedly told police that the fire began when he dropped a cigarette in a building storage shed. Neighbors watching the fire's aftermath late Tuesday night said they saw a man open the shed door before flames shot upward to the apartment building's second floor.
Flickinger faces three felony charges, including two counts of causing and risking a catastophe. An arson charge was removed after officers filed it prematurely, Greenfield Township Police Chief Ron Givler said.
Givler said Flickinger will likely soon face more charges for past incidents, though he declined to identify the cases.
He said a Monday night barn fire about 3 miles from the Greenfield Apartments blaze - also identified by police as suspicious - is still under investigation.
"There are other criminal charges forthcoming," Givler said.
When police first received word of the fire Tuesday night, Greenfield Township Patrolman Andrew Campbell and a Freedom Township colleague rushed to the scene to evacuate the building, police said in an affidavit.
Givler said Campbell suffered from smoke inhalation and received treatment at Nason Hospital in Roaring Spring. After his release, he returned to work and filed the charges against Flickinger.
Campbell is set for a few days' recovery at home, Givler said. A firefighter was hurt at the scene, as well, but refused treatment, he said.
According to a criminal complaint, responding police quickly realized Flickinger's former home along Pine Hollow Road had caught fire three times in the past. A series of recent posts on his Facebook page, including one the day of the fire, deal with his struggles quitting smoking and looking for cigarettes.
"[Flickinger] stated that he was outside smoking, and looked into the storage shed and dropped the cigarette into the shed and ignited the fire," police wrote in an affidavit.
By 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, firefighters from throughout the region were clearing the scene, cutting portions of the apartment wall away and shining powerful flashlights into the burned-out homes.
Five families were displaced, American Red Cross officials said in a news release. None of the residents were hurt, Givler said.
Flickinger secured a temporary release from Blair County Prison after posting 10 percent of his $15,000 bail, according to court documents. A preliminary hearing is set for Thursday before Magisterial District Judge Craig E. Ormsby.
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.