At 8:36 a.m. on Monday May 14, 2018, Ephrata Police were dispatched to 51 Hoover Drive for a disturbance inside a residence between husband and wife. According to the dispatch, the 51 year old male resident was "lighting things on fire." Officers arrived to find smoke inside the residence. The man refused to allow them to enter, locking the door, and disappearing into the home. Within a short time officers observed flames and smoke outside the home.
Officers forced entry to the home to address the fire and to extract the resident. The officers were met with overwhelming smoke and heat, along with locked doors and were unable to mount a successful rescue.
The Lincoln Fire Company, assisted by multiple local fire agencies, fought the fire, putting it out. During a simultaneous search, the male was located, by members of Lincoln and Pioneer fire companies, hiding in a closet. He was extricated for medical treatment, and transported to Lancaster General Hospital for evaluation. His current condition is unknown.
The wife escaped unharmed and no other residents were home at the time.
The criminal investigation continues.
On March 14, 2018, Ephrata Police Detectives charged Michael Thomas Matthews, 51, of Ephrata with Arson Endangering Persons, Aggravated Arson, and Causing or Risking Catastrophe - all felonies of the 1st degree - after he intentionally set fire to his residence, with his wife inside.
Matthews is currently undergoing significant medical treatment due to his exposure to the fire.
Matthews is presumed innocent.