by David Croyle
Police are combing through video from surveillance cameras of several local businesses that will hopefully lead them to the person or persons who started a house fire on Saturday night.
The fire began behind a duplex house at 150-152 Diamond Way located on an alley between South McKean Street and South Jefferson Street in downtown Kittanning.
Pennsylvania State Police Deputy Fire Marshal Trooper Duane Baird has ruled that an arsonist started the fire.
“The fire started in back of the house (duplex) in a pile of furniture and other combustible material. I believe the fire was intentionally set. My ruling on the fire is going to be incendiary (a device to cause fire).”
Kittanning Hose Company #1 Fire Chief Gene Stephens said the fire affected the 152 side of the duplex, which was unoccupied at the time the fire broke out.
“As it was burning (outside), it popped the window on the first floor in the kitchen and went into the house. On the second floor bedroom, it started into that room. It pretty well gutted the first floor and minor fire damage to the second floor bedroom. (There was) a lot of smoke and heat damage to the second and third floor.”
The 152 side of the duplex was a rental unit owned by Ted Claypoole of Kittanning.
On the 150 side, Trooper Baird said the damage was minimal.
“If anything, there was just minor smoke damage. There was really no damage because there was a fire wall separating the two, so it never did get into there.”
The 150 side is owned by Dustin Cravener and Chris Myers. The unit is occupied by 79-year-old Sally Brauers and a 12-year-old female. Brauers was taken to ACMH Hospital by Kittanning Hose Company #6 Ambulance Service for observation.
Kittanning Hose Companies 1, 4, 6, the county rehab unit, Rayburn Township and the West Kittanning Rapid Intervention Team (mobilized in case fire fighters get trapped in building) all responded to the 911 dispatch which occurred at 11:15 PM. Other units from East Franklin, Applewold, and Ford City were brought in to cover the remainder of the town and served as fire standby crews.
There was no damage estimate available at the time of publication.