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A former auto shop employee has been arrested for two arsons after he destroyed an auto shop in Pennsylvania and set fire to a private shed in one night, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.

Sean Gahagan, 56, was arrested on several felon arson charges after authorities stated he admitted to setting both fires, one at his former workplace, JG Transmissions, and the other at the property of a man he owed money to. 

According to the DA’s office, the incident happened on December 29, 2023, just before 9 p.m., after officers responded to a fire at an auto shop that was fully engulfed in flames. 

Just 15 minutes prior, at approximately 8:30 p.m., police were called to a residence for a shed fire at the back of the property. 

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An investigation into the cause of the fire, which completely destroyed JG Transmissions and caused limited damage to the shed, found that both fires were intentionally set. 

Inside the shed, fire investigators found a can of fire-starting fluid and a can of “Gum Cutter,” which is a highly flammable product used to clean various parts of automotive engines. The fire investigators found that “Gum Cutter” is a product used by JG Transmissions.

Officials said Gahagan was a former employee at JG transmissions, and visited the business earlier that day asking for work.

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Double arson arrest made in Pennsylvania

Surveillance video also captured a man running back and forth from a vehicle to the auto shop about six times before the fire was reported.

The same vehicle was seen on video near the residential fire just before the fire was found, the DA stated. 

Police records show that Gahagan “felt cheated” that he was ordered to pay $80,000 in restitution to the shed’s owner after being arrested for a past arson at the same property, Fox 29 Philadelphia stated. 

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JG Tranmissions

Gahagan was arrested for trespassing inside a church on January 1 wearing the same camouflage jacket seen in surveillance footage, according to the DA. Additionally, license plate readers nearby captured the vehicle’s license plate, which was matched to Gahagan’s vehicle.

Gahagan is charged with first-degree Felony Arson, as well as six other felony counts of Arson, Risking Catastrophe, Burglary, Theft by Unlawful Taking, Criminal Mischief and Possessing an Instrument of Crime. 

He was arraigned on Jan. 19, 2024 and his bail was set at $500,000. A bail review hearing is scheduled for Jan. 26. 

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