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Ross man arrested in West View arson

| Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007, 12:00 p.m.

A judge Monday ordered a Ross man accused of setting fire to a West View apartment building to undergo psychological evaluation in the Allegheny County Jail.

Lance Neal Haas, 45, is accused of setting fire to a 15-unit apartment building in the 400 block of Center Avenue late Sunday after urinating on the basement floor, West View police said.

"He told us he did it just for the fun of it," said Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Donald Brucker. "It's all very unusual."

According to a police affidavit, Haas entered the apartment building about 11:30 p.m. by banging on the security key pad after leaving Drink's Bar -- where he was drinking. Haas told police he went inside to urinate on the floor of the laundry room.

"He then set some clothes he found on fire in the storage room," said West View police Lt. Randall C. Freedman. "Some eyewitnesses told us they saw him leaving the building afterward."

According to the affidavit, the witnesses, who were young boys, watched Haas carry a bicycle up the stairs and saw a fire burning on the stairs behind him.

Police searched Haas and found a lighter in the pocket of his jean shorts. The affidavit states Haas said he "did it for fun, not thinking that anything serious would come of it."

The building was deemed unsafe and padlocked after the fire, leaving an undetermined number of residents homeless.

Police charged Haas with reckless endangerment, arson, causing or risking a catastrophe, criminal mischief and burglary. He is being held in lieu of $200,000 bail.

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