Police seek people seen near Belvedere Hotel minutes before fire broke out | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Police seek people seen near Belvedere Hotel minutes before fire broke out

Mary Ann Thomas
Pennsylvania State Police
State police say these people were seen walking near the Belvedere Hotel in Oklahoma Borough minutes before a fire that destroyed the building broke out.

State police said Friday they want to talk with two people seen walking near the Belvedere Hotel in Oklahoma Borough shortly before it burned down last month.

Security camera footage shared by state police briefly showed the two people walking before they disappeared from view near the hotel.

The pair was seen coming from the direction of the Apollo Bridge, walking between Route 66 and the railroad tracks toward the Belvedere at about 11:30 p.m., minutes before the fire broke out July 23. The fire destroyed the iconic, dilapidated hotel.

Police said they want to talk to the individuals because they hope the people may have seen something that could aid police in their investigation.

The video surveillance footage was courtesy of Naser Foods, across the street from the Belvedere.

An earlier video, also from Naser’s, showed that it only took about 10 minutes for the blaze to engulf the nearly 115-year-old, four-story hotel.

Although there were cars driving by at that time, Trooper Steve Limani said the walkers might have been in a position to see something.

Additionally, police urged anyone with information about people who recently might have been engaged in suspicious activity at the hotel — not curiosity seekers or photographers — to report the information.

Borough officials previously have reported trespassers entering the hotel, which was vacant and declared structurally unsound. Plans were under way to raze the faltering building as it was lurching toward Route 66.

The fire is under investigation by the state police fire marshal and likely will be for a couple of months, according to Limani.

Police are waiting for test results documenting whether accelerants were in the building, because that could signal arson.

Limani said the need for those results from police labs are not as pressing as other crime analysis tests might be, because the Belvedere fire didn’t result in a fatality or other catastrophic event.

Although the fire is suspicious given there were no utilities in the abandoned hotel, police don’t assume the fire was started purposely.

“It could have been a homeless guy smoking a cigarette or something unintentional,” he said.

Anyone with information about the people in the video or the fire can call state police at 724-832-3288.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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