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The original item was published from 11/1/2019 2:22:37 PM to 2/8/2020 5:05:06 PM.

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District Attorney

Posted on: November 1, 2019

[ARCHIVED] Ephrata Man Jailed for Setting his own House Ablaze, Prompting Emergency Rescue


An Ephrata man will serve at least nine years in prison for setting fire to his own house – risking the lives of first responders who rescued him from a bedroom.

Michael T. Matthews will serve 9 to 27 years in prison for felony aggravated arson and related charges regarding the May 14, 2018, incident on Hoover Drive.

Lancaster County Judge Margaret Miller said Matthews placed people in significant danger when he set fire to the home, then hid out in a closet, forcing first responders to rescue him.

Assistant District Attorney Susan Ellison, who won the trial conviction in September, said Matthews has shown no remorse and taken no responsibility.

The prospect of Matthews being released from prison is “frightening,” ADA Ellison said at sentencing.

A female also was home when Matthews set it ablaze. She escaped on her own.

When Ephrata police arrived at the home on the day of the fire, Matthews was at the front door and went inside and locked the door.

A firefighter was treated at the scene.

A Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal testified that the fire was intentionally set.

The fire and smoke caused extensive damages and the home was condemned.

Ephrata police Detective Kenneth Lockhart filed charges which included aggravated arson (person present), arson and risking a catastrophe.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041;; Twitter: @BrettHambright

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