City fires endanger firefighters

YOUNGSTOWN — A 36-year-old city man who is a suspect in at least two of today's arsons was arrested.

Spencer Morris Washington is accused of setting fire to vacant homes on Falls Avenue and Breaden avenues, both owned at one time by his grandfather — and the suspect's father, Spencer Morris, said he knows his son's motive.

"He set two of his grandfather's houses on fire because he was angry with him. ... He did it to get back at me," Morris said.

Morris said he got into an argument Wednesday with his son, who has previous substance abuse problems.

"I told police: 'What's the odds of two of my father's houses getting set on fire? ... He told me he was going to burn the house down. He said 'I'm going to take away your memories,'" Morris said.

Morris said his father lived in the house from 1959 until 2005, when he died at age 104.

At least 11 separate fires Wednesday night kept firefighters busy and endangered emergency personnel.

The first fire to be ignited was at the RRI tire recycling plant, on Brittain Avenue off of Poland Avenue. The fire started just after 10 p.m. with billows of black smoke filling the air around the area.

The tire business fire was just the beginning.

Additional fires from various parts of the South Side followed the tire plant. Most of the buildings burned were vacant homes.

After the Washington arrest, however, another fire was reported on Almyra Avenue. Fire officials raced to the scene causing a 10 a.m. news conference on the rash of fires to be canceled.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.