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Accelerant found at Sirwell Street house fire in Kittanning

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Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

Kittanning police are investigating an arson that occurred at a Sirwell Street home just before 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Police said they have identified a "person of interest" in the fire that damaged a rear room, but declined to name him or her. Accelerant was found outside of the home yesterday afternoon by police and borough Fire Marshal Earl Kline.

"A neighbor got up to go to work and saw smoke," said police Chief Ed Cassesse.

The neighbor alerted resident Christopher Powell to the fire and Powell escaped with his dogs, said borough Officer Jamie Baum.

Kline said the fire started on the outside of the house and firefighters did a good job containing the blaze to the rear room, which contained a set of bunk beds.

"Nothing burned to the inside," he said.

In addition to the house fire, someone attempted to set a neighbor's car on fire by inserting a rag or paper towel in the gas tank, investigators said.

A steep hill from Sirwell Street leads to the rear of the house and firefighters did a "very good job" battling the blaze based on the conditions, Kline said. Crews from Kittanning Hose Companies 4 and 6 traveled the narrow street to the house while Hose Company 1 stayed near the intersection of Sirwell Street and Johnson Avenue, he said.

Rayburn and Kittanning Township fire departments assisted at the scene.

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