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Woman, toddler flee blaze in rowhouse

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Friday, Oct. 20, 2006, 12:00 p.m.

A woman who escaped a burning Moon rowhouse with her toddler after an apparent firebomb was tossed through a window told police the word "snitch" and an obscenity were scrawled on the living room window.

Authorities said someone threw an incendiary device through that window of the two-story Delaware Drive unit, causing a fire early Thursday morning that damaged the home and a neighboring unit.

Investigators aren't certain what was written on the window, but were investigating the woman's report that the words were "snitch" with an obscene threat, said Allegheny County Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Don Brucker. He said evidence from the scene would be analyzed at a lab.

The woman, 27, awakened to the alarm from a smoke detector and alerted other residents of the rowhouse after escaping with her 3-year-old daughter through a front door engulfed in flames. Police would not release her name.

Moon police Capt. Greg Seamon said police do not know why the woman would be targeted by an assailant. He said police would increase patrols in Mooncrest, a housing plan built by the federal government in 1943 for defense workers at Neville Island.

The county Web site lists the building's owner as John Fahrny Jr., who said he bought the rowhouse with other investors. He was unaware of the 1 a.m. fire.

Brucker estimated the fire caused $10,000 damage. John Raper's adjacent home in the six-unit building was heavily damaged by smoke and water.

Raper, 63, a retiree, said he wasn't sure what he could salvage from the house where he has lived alone since his wife, Eblin, died two years ago. He was almost asleep when he heard his smoke alarm and his neighbor pounding on his door.

"I just retired and I get this for retirement," Raper said. "I don't like trouble. I never try to make any trouble whatsoever. I try to help people the best I can."

Raper was staying with his daughter, Ruth Cardona, who lives on the other side of the targeted unit. Cardona's home filled with smoke from the fire, and the odor lingered yesterday afternoon.

"It filled up pretty fast. By the time we got out the door, the whole living room was full of smoke," Cardona said.

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