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Man at scene of fire charged with arson

| Monday, May 14, 2012, 9:11 a.m.

A Uniontown man was arrested and charged with arson early Thursday morning as he stood across the street from the burning building.

Elijah Nicholson, 19, of 238 Connellsville St., was charged by Uniontown Police with arson and related offenses.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by investigating officer David Rutter, Nicholson was standing in front of his home across from 255 Connellsville St., the site of the fire.

'Upon arrival while assisting the fire department, Elijah Nicholson approached this officer (Rutter) and stated, 'Someone just woke me up,'' the affidavit said. 'I spoke to Nicholson and asked him if he saw anything. He stated, 'No.''

Rutter then told Nicholson he had been coming to all the fires on Connellsville Street, the affidavit said. At that point, Nicholson became very upset and began to cry.

'I set this fire,' Nicholson told Rutter, according to the affidavit.

After Nicholson was read his Miranda rights, he said he had used gasoline from a can that was in his basement. Rutter and Nicholson then went into Nicholson's home and obtained the gas can.

Nicholson was then taken to the Uniontown Police station where he gave a statement. Nicholson admitted throwing gasoline into the rear window of 255 Connellsville St. and lighting it, the affidavit said.

Nicholson was arraigned before District Justice Lawrence Blair of Uniontown and lodged in the Fayette County Prison in lieu of $50,000 straight cash bond.

'This is about the fifth or sixth time this house has been on fire,' said Uniontown fire Chief James Wood. 'We had a person we had been looking at about this and other fires, but we couldn't prove it. But we got an arrest last night.'

Wood wasn't certain who owned the property. He said the building had been vacant for some time, with the first fire there reported on Sept. 11, 2000.

'At this point, it's not going to be much to tear down, just push it in,' Wood said. 'But I feel it's going to be put on the city to do it.'

Wood said the blaze was fully involved when firemen arrived, but it was quickly brought under control. Uniontown firefighters were aided by North Union and South Union departments, he said.

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