Delco volunteer firefighter charged with arson after admitting to setting car on fire next door to his home

A Delaware County teenage volunteer firefighter is facing arson charges after being accused of setting fire to a vehicle just next door to his own home in Colwyn.

Abner Carl Roberts, 18, a junior firefighter with neighboring Yeadon Fire Department is charged with arson, reckless endangerment and seven other crimes by the Pennsylvania State Police according to court records.  

The charges stem from a vehicle fire on the 400 block of South 2nd Street in Colwyn on Thursday. April 11.

"We thought someone’s house was on fire, a lot of black smoke and then a lot of fire engines," said neighbor Robin Corbin.

Corbin, who lives down the block, saw fire consume the 2012 Land Rover on Thursday. On Monday, she discovered Roberts, who lives next door to where the fire started, was accused of igniting the fire with alcohol and a lighter, according to PA State Police.

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Upper Darby Fire Company

In a statement to FOX 29, a spokesperson for the department says Roberts was immediately suspended pending the investigation. 

"Yeadon Fire Company #1 will not tolerate these actions and will work with law enforcement to ensure justice is served" 

The statement also revealed Roberts joined the department as a junior firefighter about a year ago "after completion of company mandated background checks, including Patch report via Pennsylvania State Police on-line portal".

Police say Roberts tried to assist firefighters on scene by using a garden hose, but once he was questioned by Darby Police, Roberts admitted to setting the fire. 

No one was injured during the incident. 

"It’s very concerning because if my house is on fire. Are you going to rescue me or are you going to watch it burn," said Corbin.

"The reprehensible actions of this individual do not represent this department or the fire service as a whole," said Yeadon’s Fire Chief Shaheed Summers. "Our mission has not changed. The Yeadon Fire Company #1 will continue to serve the community and its citizens with honor, dignity, and devotion."

The Department plans to terminate Roberts’ membership pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

"It’s very mind-boggling to be a firefighter and start your own fire for own people to put it out.  There is something really not right with that" said Corbin.

Roberts remains in the Delaware County Correctional Facility on $75,000 bail. 

Roberts' father tells FOX 29 his son is waiting for a public defender. His next court appearance is set for April 24.