An East Donegal Township man faces a felony charge after police said he ignited a fire in a local wheat field while lighting off fireworks.
Allen S. Penwell, 58, also consumed alcohol July 6, the date he’s accused of starting the fire in a field on the 200 block of Rock Point Road, according to Susquehanna Regional police.
In charging documents filed against Penwell this week, police said they were called to the area about 4:39 p.m. Firefighters had already responded.
Police said they arrived to find that the fire had already been extinguished, but firefighters were still spraying water on the area while looking for remaining hot spots.
A “large portion” of the wheat field had been burned, police said, adding that the field bordered a residential area with nearby backyards.
“In several of these locations, the fire came within several feet of reaching storage sheds and outbuildings,” police wrote in charging documents. “This was averted by residents with garden hoses and the response by the fire department.”
Penwell spoke with police at the scene, admitting that he had been setting off fireworks in his backyard, which is adjacent to the field, according to charging documents. Police said he also admitted to consuming alcohol.
The fireworks were lit in an old tire beneath tree branches, police said.
The owner of the burned area reported that he had just reseeded the recently harvested field earlier that morning, and the fire likely amounted to about $405 in damages, police said.
Penwell now faces a felony charge of reckless burning or exploding near unoccupied structures, as well as a misdemeanor charge of agricultural vandalism, according to online court documents.