Arson suspect in custody

November 19, 2013
Firefighters are on the scene of this house fire in the 700 block of Ewing Street in Washington. - Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

A fire that damaged a home on Ross Alley in the West End section of Washington Friday afternoon was ruled arson and a suspect has been arrested, according to Washington Fire Department.

Shortly before 5 p.m., firefighters were called to the scene and quickly extinguished the blaze, but not before the basement area was heavily damaged and the main floor sustained smoke damage.

Witnesses told police they observed the man running to the house, which sits behind Ewing Street.

Police caught the man a short time later.

City fire Chief Linn Brookman said a flammable liquid is believed to have started the fire.

Brenda Clutter was asleep in the house when the fire started.

“I heard a big boom and I looked outside to see what happened but I didn’t see anything, then I looked out back and saw the fire,” said Clutter, who was the only person home when the blaze broke out.

Clutter identified the man who allegedly started the fire as her nephew and said he had threatened to set the house on fire a few days ago because of an ongoing dispute with one of the home’s residents. According to Clutter, her nephew told her and other people several times that he would set it ablaze.

His name has not been released.

Clutter said the homeowner has been notified about the fire.

A dog was found unharmed, but two cats who also lived in the home were not accounted for Tuesday night.

The state fire marshal is investigating the incident.

Karen Mansfield is an award-winning journalist and mom of five who has been a staff writer for the Observer-Reporter since 1988. She enjoys reading, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a good glass of wine and nice people.

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