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NEW CASTLE Apartment fire is ruled an arson



Published: Tue, May 8, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Firefighters found they had blazes in three storage buildings when they reached the scene.

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- A state fire marshal ruled this morning that arson caused the fire that did $400,000 damage to an apartment building in the Harbor Heights Housing Complex on Booker Drive.

Pennsylvania State Trooper Robert Ryhal said fires were started Monday in three storage buildings, including two attached to the heavily damaged apartment building. The blaze in the third was contained to the storage building, which sustained only minor damage, he said.

David Joseph, assistant fire chief, said the first alarm came in at 9:43 a.m. Monday and was reported as a fire in a storage building attached to the west end of a four-apartment building at 1110, 1112, 1114 and 1116 Booker Drive.

Joseph said that storage building was fully ablaze when firefighters arrived and the flames had spread up the wall and into the eaves of the roof, which covers all four apartments.

Firefighters were able to confine the flames to the roof but all four apartments were damaged by smoke and water.

Joseph said firefighters had just reached the scene when they were informed that a second storage building on the east side of the same four apartments was also on fire and that a third storage building attached to another apartment building in the complex was also ablaze.

The storage structures contained a wide variety of items, he said.

All four of the apartments at 1110-1116 Booker Drive were occupied.

No injuries: Everyone evacuated the building safely and there were no injuries, Joseph said. Damage was estimated at $320,000 to the building and $80,000 to its contents, he said.

The American Red Cross was helping the victims in finding temporary housing, he said.

The apartment complex is owned by the Lawrence County Housing Authority.




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