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Fire in Connellsville ruled arson

| Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, 1:11 a.m.
Bill Shirley | Daily Courier
Arson has been ruled the cause of fire to this vacant structure at 239 S. Carnegie Ave. in Connellsville. The blaze occurred approximately 9:15 p.m. Thursday, February 20, 2014. Crews cleared the scene around 12:30 a.m. Friday. A firefighter was reportedly treated at Highlands Hospital.

Fire to a vacant structure in Connellsville has been ruled arson, although the exact cause is undetermined.

“It was fully involved when we arrived,” New Haven Hose Company Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bob Topper said.

Fire crews responded to 239 S. Carnegie Ave. when the call came in about 9:15 p.m. Thursday. Topper met with the state police at Uniontown fire marshal on Friday.

The fire reportedly was ruled an arson because the house had no utilities; the tenants moved out four weeks prior.

Topper said the fire started in the basement, and the damage to the house was extensive. “It was fully gutted. Every room had fire.”

Topper said a fireman with Morrell VFD was transported to Highlands Hospital after a fire hose blew off and struck the firefighter. He said he later was informed by an officer with Morrell that the firefighter was OK.

The firefighter's identity and details of his injury were not available.

Because the structure was fully involved, Topper said, crews were told to back off from an interior attack and go on the defensive, hitting the fire from outside the house with heavy volumes of water.

“Once we had the bulk of the fire down, we went in for an interior attack and getting the hot spots,” Topper said.

He said it took firefighters about an hour to get the fire under control.

Topper said the location of the house on a steep embankment was a challenge, and there were obstacles firemen had to move around.

He said fire crews cleared the scene around 12:30 a.m. Friday.

Along with New Haven Hose and Morrell, fire departments from Connellsville Township and South Connellsville responded and Fayette EMS fire rehab team. Dunbar VFD and DL&V were on standby.

The fire marshal will continue the investigation.

According to Fayette County property records, the residential, single-family home is owned by Anthony A. Tristani of Connellsville.

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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