Woman Charged in Connection with Structure Fire Faces Hearing
According to court documents, 47-year-old Shelly Ann Sloat, of Clarion, is facing a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, December 3, at 11:00 a.m in front of Magisterial District Judge Duane L. Quinn.
A preliminary hearing for Sloat had been scheduled for November 12 but was continued until December 3.
Sloat has been charged with the following offenses:
– Risking Catastrophe, Felony 3
– Criminal Mischief/Damage Property Intent, Reckless, Or Negligent, Felony 3
– Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Misdemeanor 2
She is currently free on $2,500.00 unsecured bail.
(Photos below by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography.)
The charges stem from an investigation into a fire that occurred at a residence on North Second Avenue in Clarion Borough on September 24, 2019.
Details of the case:
According to a criminal complaint, around 2:17 p.m. on September 24, Clarion Fire & Hose Company No. 1 and Clarion Borough Police were dispatched to a structure fire with entrapment at a residence on North Second Avenue.
The complaint notes the fire company and police were both at the scene of a traffic accident just a few blocks away and arrived at the scene of the fire within minutes of the call.
According to the complaint, upon arrival at the scene, Chief William Peck saw a woman, later identified as Shelly Ann Sloat, sitting on the landing of her second story apartment. Sloat stated her apartment was on fire, and Chief Peck saw the smoke coming from the apartment.
Firefighters then attended to the fire while Chief Peck went to the other apartments to notify the other tenants and get everyone out of the building.
The complaint notes within several minutes, heavy black smoke was coming from the door and window of the apartment in question while Sloat continued to sit on the exterior second story landing outside of it, despite being told several times by the firemen to leave the building. She allegedly refused to leave because of her cats.
The complaint states the smoke finally got to a point that Sloat had to be helped off the landing by a fireman, who was able to get her to safety.
Chief Peck then questioned Sloat about what had occurred.
According to the complaint, Sloat stated that she is on oxygen and was smoking when she fell asleep on her chair. She explained that when she woke, her chest and her chair were on fire.
The complaint notes Sloat had burns on several areas of her body, including her chest and hands.
She was subsequently transported to Clarion Hospital Emergency Room for treatment.
Firefighters were able to put out the fire, which had burned the chair in Sloat’s living room.
According to the complaint, the apartment sustained heavy smoke damage and the heat was so intense by the burning chair, it melted the front window curtain and the living room lamp.
Chief Peck noted the apartment was equipped with three smoke detectors, one in the living room and one in each bedroom. He checked the detectors and found the one in the living room, which was hard wired, and found it was tampered with and was not working. He then checked the bedroom smoke detectors and found they did not have batteries.
Around 4:06 p.m. Chief Peck went to the Clarion Hospital Emergency Room to interview Sloat. She was read her Miranda warnings and agreed to the interview.
According to the complaint, Sloat stated she normally doesn’t smoke with the oxygen on, but forgot to turn it off, and then fell asleep. Then she awoke with her chest on fire. When asked how long she had been smoking in the apartment, Sloat allegedly said since January.
When asked if she had tampered with the smoke detector in the living room, Sloat allegedly stated she had a friend do it in January when she moved in because she could not reach them, and said that everything set the alarm off including cooking and vaping.
The complaint notes that a copy of the lease for the apartment that Chief Peck received from the manager of the complex specifically indicates smoking is not permitted in the apartments. The manager also provided an estimate of the damage caused by the fire which was $25,632.88.
Sloat was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Duane L. Quinn at 9:30 a.m. on October 25, 2019.
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