DECATUR TOWNSHIP – A DuBois man is accused of setting his foster parents’ garage/shed on fire in an effort to get revenge against them.
Michael George Bickle, 23, is charged by Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Russell Stewart with 13 felony counts of arson, four felony counts of reckless burning or exploding and two felony counts of criminal mischief.
He’s also charged with three misdemeanor counts of retaliation against witness/victim, six misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person and two summary counts of dangerous burning.
The charges stem from a structure fire that occurred July 28 in the 100 block of Albrights Ranch Drive in Decatur Township, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed with the office of Magisterial District Judge Jerome Nevling.
Stewart was requested to assist with the investigation after Houtzdale Fire Chief Todd Reifer was unable to determine the cause of the fire. Reifer said the building was a complete loss, and there wasn’t any electrical connection.
Upon examination of the scene, Stewart determined the fire started on the floor inside the shed/garage and considered multiple natural causes like lightening or spontaneous combustion and accidental causes like careless smoking or mechanical failure.
However, he said none of those were possibilities because a lightening strike didn’t occur and the structure neither had utilities or heating. As a result, he ruled the fire was the cause of an intentional act of arson.
On Sept. 8, a witness told state police he took Bickle to a dirt road behind a residence on Bucket Line Road. The witness said he remained in the vehicle while Bickle committed another crime – motor vehicle theft.
After the all-terrain vehicle was hidden, the witness said he took Bickle back to the scene. Bickle reportedly said he’d find his own way back to Clearfield after he got revenge on his foster mother for sending him to prison.
When he spoke with Bickle the next day, Bickle admitted to having taken another ATV and that’s how he got back to Clearfield. He also allegedly said he set the shed/garage on fire to get revenge on his foster parents.
Bickle told the witness he located a five-gallon gas container inside, poured gas all through the garage, rolled up a dollar bill, ignited it and tossed it inside the garage. He then jumped on the second stolen ATV and fled the area.