Mahaffey, PA – It was a mystery when two houses were destroyed by fire in Mahaffey last November. Now, more than a year later with the mystery solved, one man will serve state prison time for arson.
30-year-old Raymond Geer of Mahaffey was sentenced to 4 to 10 years in state prison for arson and was ordered to pay more than $28,630 in restitution. The massive fire took 81 firefighters from four different counties to put out.
33-year-old Catherine Burnheimer of Northern Cambria is also accused of being part of the arson, though she faces similar but lesser charges. Her case is still pending.
Two witnesses came forward a month after the arson. They said that Burnheimer had told them that she had acted as the “lookout” while Geer set the fire.
The fire started in an unoccupied, two-story, wood-framed house early in the morning on Nov. 19. It burned to the ground, and the flames were so large that it caused a second house fire at the home next to it. Both houses were unoccupied at the time, but it took several fire departments to extinguish it. It was determined to be arson, but it took months to gather the evidence to charge anyone.
Geer allegedly admitted to police that he had planned to set the house on fire with Burnheimer. He said that he thought the fire department would be able to respond before any damage was done to other homes and that he never intended for the fire to get so large.
The home originally belonged to Geer’s uncle, who had died a few months before the fire. Geer reportedly set the fire because he had been incarcerated when his uncle died, had never got a chance to say his goodbyes, and had “let his emotions get the best of him.”
Like Connect FM on Facebook for more local news each day: