Wilkes-Barre, PA – Arson fire at Children and Youth Services Center extinguished by sprinkler system

The Luzerne County human services building on Pennsylvania Avenue was closed Monday after someone threw a “fire bomb” into an office, according to an email to county council members. In the email, council Chairwoman Linda McClosky Houck told fellow members she was informed Children and Youth Executive Director Joanne Van Saun’s office was the one targeted.  A fire at the building at approximately 5:37 a.m. Monday was quickly extinguished by the sprinkler system, District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said.

She added the incident is under investigation, and there are several potential leads for persons of interest. She declined to offer further details. “Based on the circumstances, this is an active criminal investigation,” Salavantis said.  County Manager C. David Pedri said the building would be reopened today with crisis counselors on site to provide counseling for those who needed it.

Salavantis said it was not known how long the investigation would take, and she declined to provide specifics on how the fire started. The building contains the offices for the county’s Human Services Division, including Children and Youth, drug and alcohol programs, and Mental Health and Developmental Services. The Area Agency on Aging for Luzerne and Wyoming counties is also located there.  Pedri said there was never a lapse in coverage during the day.  “All emergency calls for the Children and Youth division were diverted to on-call workers,” he said in a news release.  State Police and Wilkes-Barre police and firefighters were at the scene along with numerous agents from the Luzerne County Sheriff’s Office.

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