Police waiting on evidence connecting Sharon arson suspect to more fires

SHARON: Arrested July 19 - John Burns, 59, charged with attempted arson and causing or risking catastrophe


SHARON, Pa. (WYTV) – A Farrell man was in Sharon court Wednesday on a number of charges after police say he tried to set a building on fire.

John Burns is charged with arson and causing or risking catastrophe.

He agreed to be bonded over to the Mercer County Court. His bond was reduced from $100,000 to $50,000.

No new charges will be filed, despite police believing he is connected to other arsons in the city.

Despite only one arson charge against Burns, Sharon Police Chief Gerry Smith said Burns could be connected to almost a dozen fires but investigators are still waiting for forensic evidence on those cases.

“When all that evidence comes back and when we meet with the state police investigators, we’ll meet with the district attorney’s office and decide what route we’re going to take, as far as additional charges, or what charges, or how many charges.”

Burns is accused of trying to put a rug against the entry door of a group home in the 200 block of State Street and lighting it on fire last month. When it didn’t work, police said Burns quickly left.

He was identified by Pennsylvania State Police on surveillance video the same day. Burns was later arrested at his Farrell home, where police searched the house.

PSP said they’ve had dealings with him in the past.

Sharon has had a history of arson in the last two years, with just over 20 so far in 2017. Just on Monday, police arrested a juvenile for setting fire to five vacant houses.