Indiana Borough police on Friday arrested a 21-year-old Indiana University of Pennsylvania student in connection with a fire call at the Essex House apartment building along Oakland Avenue.
Paul J. Indrihovic II, of Coraopolis, Allegheny County, is charged with felony counts of risking a catastrophe, possession of explosive or incendiary materials or devices, and criminal mischief. He also is charged with a misdemeanor count of recklessly endangering another person.
He was arraigned before District Judge Guy Haberl on Friday afternoon and placed in the Indiana County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 cash bond.
According to police, Indrihovic may have dumped gasoline in the building. Why, however, is unclear — police did not suggest a motive in a news release announcing the arrest.
Police said they found puddles of gasoline in two stairwells after being summoned there Thursday night on a report of what was variably described as a “gas leak” and a “report of gasoline in the structure.”
Firefighters were summoned, too, and began evacuating the building, going from apartment to apartment. When they arrived at Indrihovic’s apartment, Apartment No. 108, firefighters smelled gasoline coming from the area around a kitchen sink and alerted officers, police said.
Officers then opened a criminal investigation and on Friday searched Indrihovic’s apartment. Police said that through the search, they obtained evidence linking Indrihovic to the gasoline found in the stairwells.
Officers were seen taking a garbage bag containing a red plastic gasoline canister and smelling of gasoline from a Dumpster on Friday.
Firefighters had been called to the apartment building twice on Thursday. Prior to the gasoline incident, they were called to extinguish a vehicle fire, which was reported around at 3:34 a.m. Indiana Fire Chief Chuck Kelly said the fire was suspicious but declined to elaborate.
And on Monday, firefighters were summoned to the building to put out a reported dryer fire, according to Kelly. That call came in shortly before midnight. Kelly said it appeared that clothes in an overloaded coin-operated dryer caught fire.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the incidents are related.