Ex-Pennsylvania Firefighter Sentenced in Arsons

Feb. 10, 2009
One of those fires caused the paralysis of another volunteer firefighter.

A former volunteer firefighter is headed to prison after being sentenced for setting nearly a dozen fires in three different counties. One of those fires caused the paralysis of another volunteer firefighter.

Chester Cyphers, 52, of Washingtonville learned his punishment for causing those injuries and starting nearly a dozen fires. He will spend at least 12 years in prison.

Monday's sentencing should keep the serial arsonist behind bars at least until he is in his mid 60s.

For now Chester Cyphers will no longer be a threat to people in Montour County or surrounding communities.

At the county courthouse in Danville the former volunteer firefighter from the Washingtonville area learned he will spend 12 to 25 years behind bars for setting nearly a dozen fires.

"He really created a reign of terror in the better parts of four counties," said Montour County District Attorney Robert Buehner. He added he will seek to keep Cyphers behind bars for the whole 25 years or until the admitted arsonist does not pose a threat anymore.

Cyphers pleaded guilty last year to setting nearly a dozen fires over several months. He torched fields and barns, including one near Turbotville in November, 2007. Two firefighters were injured while battling the blaze, one of them is now paralyzed.

Investigators eventually caught Cyphers in the act.

According to doctor's reports, Cyphers has pyromania and a long history of setting fires.

"Pyromania is defined as an irresistible impulse to set fires, and this guy's been setting fires since he was 17," Buehner added.

In court Cyphers told the judge, "I'm sorry for what I've done. Hopefully God will forgive me."

Cyphers was also ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution to one of his victims. That volunteer firefighter, Wayne Hawley, was in court Monday for the sentencing.

He said he thinks Cyphers will pay for what he did. "Hopefully in that time period he'll be able to reflect on what he did and not do it again if had the chance. At least nobody will get hurt again from it," Hawley said. He spends his days confined to a wheelchair as a result of a barn fire Cyphers set.

"It changed our lives quite a bit. As they told us in rehab, I can probably do the same things are before, it's just got to do them differently now," Hawley added. He is grateful to everyone who has helped him through a difficult time.

Not only was his family by his side in court Monday, but his fellow firefighters from Warrior Run came too to show their support.

"The department, the community, my family's been so wonderful. It makes getting through this a lot easier with that,"Hawley said.

Republished with permission of WNEP-TV.

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