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Connellsville: Another fire in city; homeowner discovers it

| Monday, Jan. 3, 2005

A lucky homeowner caught the first Connellsville arson of 2005 at 9 p.m. Saturday before the fire was able to feed.

Chuck Rummel, of 109 E. Patterson Ave., found a cardboard box burning on his back porch New Year's Day and was able to extinguish the flames before his home received any damage. "It looks like it was intentionally set," said fire Chief Joe Childs.

Investigators from Connellsville Police Department ruled the fire an arson at the scene, according to police Chief Stephen Cooper.

New Haven Hose Company responded to the incident, Childs said, but only to douse the cardboard.

"The fire was knocked down by the homeowners," he added. "We just watered it down to keep it from flaring."

Cooper wouldn't say whether investigators believe this arson was related to the 24 other intentionally set fires in Connellsville since October 2003.

Charges were filed against two male juveniles in connection with the Dec. 7 arson at Falcon Stadium, which caused considerable damage to a storage and seating area on the east side of the facility.

Connellsville police charged a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old, both of Connellsville, with arson, institutional vandalism, conspiracy, burglary, criminal trespass and criminal mischief.

Cooper said police located the two juveniles through information from other sources. The juveniles gave no apparent reason for setting the fire, other than messing around, Cooper said, and may not have known the amount of damage it would cause. They were only charged for the stadium arson.

The fire started at approximately 6:39 p.m. in a storage room, spread to a girls' rest room and then to the bleachers, causing extensive damage to the bleachers as well as to support beams.

Police also arrested a Connellsville man in November for the Oct. 22 fire at 1107 Sycamore St.

Harvey Upton, 36, of 239 S. Prospect St., was charged with a first-degree felony count of arson and a third-degree felony count of risking a catastrophe, for setting fire to his former home and a detached garage.

The police department and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) are continuing to investigate the remaining arsons.

Officials are asking anyone with information about the other fires to contact them at 724-628-2501, extension 110, or the Fayette County Crime Stoppers tip line at 724-437-TIPS. A reward up to $14,000 is available for information leading the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the arsons.

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