ShareThis Page
Valley News Dispatch

Volunteer firefighter, a Highlands student, accused of setting Brackenridge duplex fire

Tony LaRussa
| Tuesday, May 22, 2018, 6:39 a.m.
Quintin Beere, 47, of Tarentum, helps clean up after a fire destroyed a two-story building in the 800 block of Seventh Avenue in Brackenridge on Monday, May 21, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Quintin Beere, 47, of Tarentum, helps clean up after a fire destroyed a two-story building in the 800 block of Seventh Avenue in Brackenridge on Monday, May 21, 2018.
Quintin Beere, 47, of Tarentum, helps clean up after fire destroyed a two-story building in the 800 block of Seventh Avenue in Brackenridge on Monday, May 21, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Quintin Beere, 47, of Tarentum, helps clean up after fire destroyed a two-story building in the 800 block of Seventh Avenue in Brackenridge on Monday, May 21, 2018.
Quintin Beere, 47, of Tarentum, helps clean up after fire destroyed a two-story building in the 800 block of Seventh Avenue in Brackenridge on Monday, May 21, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Quintin Beere, 47, of Tarentum, helps clean up after fire destroyed a two-story building in the 800 block of Seventh Avenue in Brackenridge on Monday, May 21, 2018.
Police say a young Pioneer Hose Company firefighter set the blaze that destroyed this duplex in Brackenridge on Monday, May 21, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Police say a young Pioneer Hose Company firefighter set the blaze that destroyed this duplex in Brackenridge on Monday, May 21, 2018.
A fire fully engulfed a two-story duplex in the 800 block of 7th Avenue in Brackenridge.
Louis Ruediger I Tribune-Review
A fire fully engulfed a two-story duplex in the 800 block of 7th Avenue in Brackenridge.
A fire has fully engulfed a two-story duplex in Brackenridge, which is in the 800 block of 7th Avenue.
Courtesy of Mary Beth Delane
A fire has fully engulfed a two-story duplex in Brackenridge, which is in the 800 block of 7th Avenue.
Crews are battling a fire at a house along Seventh Ave. in Brackenridge.
Crews are battling a fire at a house along Seventh Ave. in Brackenridge.
Quintin Beere, 47, of Tarentum, helps clean up after a fire destroyed a two-story building in the 800 block of Seventh Avenue in Brackenridge on Monday, May 21, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Quintin Beere, 47, of Tarentum, helps clean up after a fire destroyed a two-story building in the 800 block of Seventh Avenue in Brackenridge on Monday, May 21, 2018.

A fire that destroyed a vacant duplex in Brackenridge on Monday afternoon was intentionally set by a volunteer firefighter who used to live in one of the homes, authorities said.

Patrick Gillis, 18, a volunteer with the Pioneer Hose Fire Department in Brackenridge, is charged with arson, causing a catastrophe and intentionally destroying an unoccupied structure — all felonies.

Gillis is a senior at Highlands High School and was a junior firefighter for Highlands Hose Company.

The blaze that engulfed the two-story building in the 800 block of Seventh Avenue started in a microwave oven in the kitchen, fire investigators said.

No injuries were reported. The Allegheny County Fire Marshal's office estimated damage to the duplex at $150,000.

A witness told police that, before the fire was discovered, a man seen outside the house appeared to be “nervous and agitated, fidgeting, biting his nails and rolling his hands in his T-shirt,” according to an affidavit of probable cause.

The witness told investigators that the man seen at the home was among the firefighters who responded after the blaze was reported at 4:22 p.m.

Another witness, who lives across the street from the home that was destroyed, told investigators that Gillis was at the house about 3:45 p.m.

When police questioned Gillis at the scene, he told them he had moved out of the Seventh Street home but was supposed to meet a friend at the duplex that afternoon. He said he left after about five minutes when the friend failed to show up. As he was walking away, he received a page to respond to a fire at the residence.

Gillis was taken into custody for additional questioning, during which he confessed that he started the fire by lighting paper and placing it in the microwave oven. He told police that he set the fire because he wanted to respond to a fire call.

Gillis remained in the Alle­gheny County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is set for 1 p.m. May 30 before District Judge Carolyn Bengel in Brackenridge.

Staff writer Chuck Biedka contributed to this report. Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-772-6368, tlarussa@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me