City Man Charged in Connection With House Fire

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Crime and Police News

(UPDATED with comments from McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik.)

A McKeesport man faces a preliminary hearing Monday after police said he deliberately set the fire that damaged his residence on May Street.

Michael J. Wright, 48, is charged by McKeesport police with arson, causing or risking a catastrophe and reckless endangerment of other persons. He is being held in Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $20,000 cash bond pending the hearing at 1 p.m. before Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi.

According to a police report, firefighters were called just after 11 a.m. June 4 when witnesses reported seeing smoke coming from a residence in the 900 block.

Police said that Wright admitted setting the fire in what appeared to have been a suicide attempt, but according to a report, the smoke became too much for him.

McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik said the two-story wood-frame house suffered fire damage to the first and part of the second floors, as well as smoke and water damage throughout. The damage to the house probably exceeds the house's value, he said.

The Allegheny County Fire Marshal's Office was called to the scene and according to a police report, determined that the fire appeared to have started in the living room on the couch, and that it appeared to have been deliberately set.

The report states that an investigator for the fire marshal's office also determined that two of the four burners on the stove had been turned on, but no food was being prepared.

Wright was taken to UPMC McKeesport hospital for an evaluation, according to a police report.

Property tax records indicate that the house is owned by a relative.

Originally published July 19, 2017.

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