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Charleroi woman facing arson charges accused of setting another fire

| Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, 6:48 p.m.
Tina Koskoski

Charleroi Fire Chief Bob Whiten Jr. recognized a woman in the crowd, her face illuminated by the flames that broke the evening darkness.

As he battled the fire at 710 Crest Ave., shortly after 9 p.m. Sept. 24, he searched his memory for her name.

He called over Assistant Chief Tom Santoro, who recognized the woman as Tina Flynn. She had been charged with arson in March 2007 after admitting to setting one of two fires at a building in the 200 block of Prospect Avenue, and another at a structure in the 1100 block of Meadow Avenue.

The Charleroi fire officials immediately called state police Fire Marshall Steve Thompson to investigate.

“We told Steve, ‘We had a small fire, but we think it's Tina,'” Whiten recalled.

As a part of his investigation, Thompson summoned the woman – who had since married and changed her name to Tina Koskoski – for an interview.

Koskoski confessed to setting the fire, police said.

On Monday, Charleroi Regional Police cited Koskoski, 46, of 124 Prospect Ave., Apt. A, Charleroi, with a summary non-traffic citation for dangerous burning in connection with the fire at 710 Crest Ave. The citation was filed at the Charleroi office of Magisterial District Judge Larry Hopkins.

That fire had been extinguished by the time firefighters responded. A section of wooden lattice had caught fire on a rear porch of the two-story residence that houses three families.

Whiten said at the time one of the residents reported hearing a noise on the porch, looked out and put the fire out with a pot of water.

Koskoski is currently in jail after allegedly confessing to starting a June 22 fire at the Central Apartments in Roscoe, where she was living at the time.

“I thought she was in jail,” Whiten said, referring to allegedly seeing Koskoski on Sept. 24. “I was surprised she got five-years probation. But she's in jail now.”

On Friday, RESA police charged Koskoski with 179 charges, including arson, for the June 22 fire at the Central Apartments, 600 Furlong Ave.

Koskoski allegedly told investigators she set a mattress in the basement on fire because she was frustrated over her “nosey neighbors” and purported drug use in the three-story building.

Koskoski allegedly confessed to the crime during an Oct. 18 interview with Thompson and RESA officer Al Marcy at the Charleroi police department.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Koskoski told Thompson and Marcy she went into the basement to check the electrical meter after she noticed the bathroom lights in her apartment flickering. She allegedly confessed to setting a mattress on fire and then alerting the residents to get out of the building.

Tenants Larry Hines and Robert Rohland, as well as Stockdale firefighters Jessie Stringer, and Marcy, were injured during the fire. About 30 tenants escaped unharmed. Several other firefighters required medical treatment for heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. One dog and seven cats died in the blaze.

During her arraignment Friday night, Koskoski told Magisterial District Judge Jay Weller in North Strabane Township that she and her 19-year-old son had been living with two friends in Charleroi since her husband kicked her out of their house following an argument Oct. 5.

Koskoski is facing 85 counts of causing or risking catastrophe, one count of criminal mischief and four counts of arson and related offenses, all felonies, in connection with the Roscoe blaze

She is also charged with 85 misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person for allegedly placing the tenants and the first responders at the scene in danger, and four counts of simple assault for the injuries two tenants and two firefighters.

She is currently in the Washington County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bond set by Weller. She is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on the Roscoe charges at 10 a.m. Nov. 6 in Washington County Central Court.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or email at cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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