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Small blaze at IKEA extinguished

| Friday, Aug. 24, 2001

The Allegheny County Fire Marshal's Office has been asked to investigate a small fire Wednesday night outside the IKEA store in Robinson Town Centre and any connection with five similar shopping center fires last month.

A Robinson Township police officer, responding to a 911 call at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, found a small wooden deck on fire about 30 feet from the store's entrance.

Township Manager Nick Kotik said the officer extinguished the fire before firefighters arrived.

IKEA store manager Jim Anastos said the deck is used to display merchandise, but nothing was on it.

There was no damage to the building and the store opened for business as usual Thursday, Anastos said.

He estimated that it will cost 'a couple hundred dollars' to repair or replace the deck.

Fire facts
Dates and causes of fires in shopping center parking lots:

South Hills Village:
  • July 7 - fireworks
  • July 15 - fireworks
  • July 24 - bottles

    Robinson Town Centre:
  • July 11 - fireworks
  • July 21 - bottles
  • Aug. 22 - undetermined
  • Kotik said Robinson Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Paul Kashmer asked the fire marshal's office to investigate. Kotik said Robinson officials want to know if Wednesday's fire is a 'random act, or if there is a link to the others,' in reference to three fires in South Hills Village and two fires in Robinson Town Centre last month.

    The fire marshal, assisted by the Allegheny County Bomb Squad, is investigating those fires, which were started in shopping center parking lots by suspects using fireworks or flammable liquids. One of the fires was started with fireworks on July 11 in IKEA's parking lot.

    Upper St. Clair police Lt. James Englert said his department is looking for a man who witnesses saw immediately before the fireworks explosions at South Hills Village on July 7 and 15.

    He is described as white, 30 to 40 years old, about 5 feet, 10 inches tall, 'a little heavyset,' with light brown hair and driving a beige or tan car, Englert said.

    The fire Wednesday 'was probably young adults out to create some mischief,' Kotik said.

    Anastos said Wednesday's fire might have been started by exploding fireworks, but added, 'It was probably just a prank. If it was any more than that, the fire marshal will figure it out.'

    Fire Marshal Bob Full could not be reached for comment.

    Staff writer Brian C. Rittmeyer contributed to this story. Howard McClellan can be reached at hmcclellan@tribweb.com or at (412) 306-4534.

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