Woman rescued from fire faces arson charges

MONTGOMERY — A 47-year-old woman rescued from her burning apartment at the Montgomery Homes at 38 Bower St. on the night of March 17 has been arrested on charges of allegedly setting the fire that caused $3,200 damage to her unit and endangered the lives of the other tenants who lived in the two-story building, borough police said.

Michelle McMillan was taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon to face charges of felony arson, felony causing or risking a catastrophe, misdemeanor recklessly endangering and felony criminal mischief. Following her arraignment before District Judge Jon E. Kemp, she was released on $25,000 damage.

Borough firefighters Chris Swisher and Daniel Bridge, both wearing self-contained breathing apparatuses, pulled an unconscious McMillan from her second-floor apartment shortly after “she allegedly set her mattress on fire in an attempt to end her life,” Patrolman Kenneth Flewelling, who filed the charges, wrote in an court papers.

The officer entered the smoke-filled building with the firefighters upon arriving on the scene shortly before 6 p.m. While the firefighters went to search McMillan’s apartment, the officer covered his face and moved down the hallway, ordering all tenants to get out.

When McMillan was brought outside, “she was covered in soot and appeared disoriented,” Flewelling said in an affidavit. Seeing that the woman was having a difficult time breathing, the officer went to his cruiser to get a first-aid kit that had medical supplies that would help her.

While being treated at the scene, McMillan, now living in Williamsport, admitted to setting her mattress on fire with a lighter, Flewelling said. She told the officer she lit the mattress on fire intentionally and “was tired of hearing voices.”

Firefighters were able to knock down the fire in a matter minutes, limiting the damage to the sole unit. Except for McMillan who was taken to a local hospital to be treated for her injuries, all other tenants could return to their apartments that night.

Cpl. Nicholas Loffredo, a state police fire marshal, assisted in the investigation and determined that the fire was indeed intentionally set.