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Monessen woman accused of setting blaze in house that injured 3 firefighters

Patrick Varine
| Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, 8:27 a.m.
Laurel L. Womack, 48, of Monessen.
Submitted photo
Laurel L. Womack, 48, of Monessen.

Police have accused a Monessen woman of setting a fire this week that left three firefighters injured.

Laurel Womack, 48, was charged Thursday with three counts each of arson and aggravated assault, along with causing a catastrophe and criminal mischief in connection with the Summit Avenue fire. She is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on $100,000 bail.

Monessen police obtained video from a utility pole camera near the house that showed a woman they said was Womack enter and leave the home twice. After leaving the second time, the home caught fire, according to a criminal complaint. Womack then went to a house across the street, sat on the porch and watched the fire, according to police.

Police spoke with Womack, who gave a false surname. After police told her about the camera and video, officers searched her purse and found an Indiana driver's license for Laurel Womack.

Womack admitted to setting the fire, according to court documents, telling police she first entered the house to see if there was anything to steal. No one was home when the fire started.

The homeowner told police it had been burglarized the previous weekend, when someone entered by breaking a glass pane in the back door.

Womack told police the man who committed the burglary asked her to “blaze” the house, allegedly giving her a bottle of high-proof alcohol, which she dumped on the living-room carpet and lit with matches, according to the complaint.

One fireman suffered a leg injury when he fell through a floor. Medics treated him at the scene, according to Monessen fire Chief Chris Rhome.

Two other firefighters were injured when part of the porch roof collapsed, Rhome said. One was taken to Mon Valley Hospital in Carroll Township and was treated and released, Rhome said.

The third firefighter was treated at the scene.

Womack faces a Sept. 29 preliminary hearing before Monessen District Judge Joseph A. Dalfonso.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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