Arson damages woman’s house, lands man behind bars

Fire photo

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A woman’s house, truck and garage were heavily damaged by flames and smoke early Wednesday in Austintown.

Her ex-boyfriend is now behind bars facing arson charges.

John Petroff, 41, tried to tell police he was home all night, but he smelled like smoke and was badly burned. Reports say officers saw skin from his right leg dripping to the ground.

And the victim said it is not the first time Petroff threatened her life.

“I could not be standing here today if it had not been for my neighbor, I would not be here,” she said.

The woman, who lives at 160 S. Navarre Ave. in Austintown, did not want to be identified. She woke up just after midnight Wednesday morning, to see her truck, garage and corner of her house engulfed in flames.

“It didn’t take long at all. It was a very quick, rapid fire. You could tell it was an accelerant of some type,” she said.

The fire also damaged a couple of her neighbor’s homes. But the victim didn’t immediately suspect arson, and she had no idea the fire might have been started by her ex-boyfriend and roommate, John Petroff.

The victim said the barking of her dogs alerted her to the presence of the fire and that she was just leaving the house when it exploded into flames.

The next door neighbor told police he saw Petroff running from the scene and that part of his clothes were on fire. That neighbor chased Petroff all the way until he ran into the back of a house right around the corner on Potomac Avenue, where he was arrested.

The victim has a five-year restraining order against Petroff. She was shocked to find out he was staying with another woman so close to this house.

“He had threatened to kill me and threatened to burn my house a year ago,” the woman said.

Petroff was arraigned Wednesday morning on five counts of aggravated arson and he remains at the Mahoning County Jail on a $250,000 bond.

But the victim said she is worried about the day he gets out.

“This man should never walk the streets again. He is a menace to society. Now everyone that dated him should be in fear because this could happen to them,” she said.

Police and court records show the house at 160 S. Navarre Ave. is in foreclosure. The former owner of the home told police the victim had been living there rent free since the bank took it.

The house was supposed to be up for Sheriff’s sale on Aug. 5. Now it’s unclear what will happen to the home, and the woman and dogs who used to live there.


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