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Three Children Charged in City Arsons

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
July 19, 2016
Posted in: Crime and Police News

Three children --- all under age 13 --- have been arrested by McKeesport police and charged in connection with two separate arsons in the city this month.

Another fire last week in a garage on Garbett Street is regarded as a possible arson, and investigators from the McKeesport police and Allegheny County fire marshal's office have developed leads in the case.

The blazes left McKeesport officials frustrated.

"We're in the schools every year to talk to these kids" about fires, McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik said. "They know what the consequences are, not just for them, criminally, but you're destroying people's property and risking the lives of your neighbors and the firefighters responding to the calls."

Officials said the first fire was deliberately set July 4 in a vacant house in the 1600 block of Grandview Avenue. It was reported just after 10 p.m.

The second was set in an unoccupied home in the 3000 block of Jersey Street on the afternoon of July 6.

Charged in connection with the July 4 fire are an 11-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl, both from the Grandview area, McKeesport police Chief Bryan Washowich said. They were arrested July 12 and charged with aggravated arson, risking a catastrophe, arson endangering property and arson endangering persons, police said.

Arrested July 13 in connection with the July 6 fire is a 12-year-old girl, also from the Grandview area, Washowich said. She faces the same charges.

All three were charged as juveniles and referred to Allegheny County juvenile authorites, Washowich said. McKeesport police Detective Sgt. Adam Alfer led the investigations.

Additional arrests are possible, Washowich said.

There is no known connection between the fires, he said, and police don't know what would have motivated the children to set the blazes.

"I don't know if it has anything to do with the Fourth of July or what," Washowich said, "but we need to encourage parents to remind their youths about fire safety."

In the Garbett Street fire, reported July 14, officials said a suspicious blaze broke out in a detached garage of a residence, and then spread to the nearby home. The fire showed signs of being deliberately set, Tomovcsik said.

Firefighters sustained minor injuries --- sprained ankles --- in the Grandview Avenue and Garbett Street calls, Tomovcsik said. One of the injured firefighters has not yet been able to return to work, he said.

Originally published July 19, 2016.

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