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Authorities probe fire at Economus' home



Published: Fri, September 1, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Federal agencies are involved in the investigation as a precaution.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

POLAND -- Fire caused an estimated $450,000 damage to the Main Street home of a federal judge.

David Comstock Jr., chief of the Western Reserve Joint Fire District, which covers Poland village and township, said the call from the condominium of U.S. Judge Peter C. Economus came between 11:30 p.m. Thursday and midnight.

No one was injured.

Judge Economus wasn't in his office today.

The condominium is in the Riverside Court complex.

Comstock said the cause hasn't been determined, but it appears the blaze started in the garage. The fire remains under investigation.

The chief said that the judge's wife discovered the fire and called the fire department.

The blaze caused some damage to the adjoining unit.

Why they're involved

Although nothing appears to be suspicious, Comstock said the investigation involves the state fire marshal's office, U.S. Marshal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"It's a precaution because of the fact that it's a federal judge," said Patrick J. Berarducci, senior special agent for ATF and a spokesman for the bureau. "We're here to lend a hand to provide the Poland chief with whatever assistance he might need."

Besides Western Reserve Joint Fire District, firefighters from Boardman, Struthers, Springfield and Beaver fire departments also responded.

"At this point, I think everybody is pretty comfortable that this is just a fire that started in a garage in or around a vehicle," Berarducci said. "There's no indication of any criminal activity or attempt to harm the judge."




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