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Another fire, same house; police asking for tips on Big Run fire

July 31, 2011

This Caroline Street house in Big Run caught fire again Saturday, destroying what was left of the interior, the second fire at the residence since Tuesday. (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

BIG RUN — Early Saturday morning, firefighters fought a fire at a Caroline Street, Big Run, residence for the second time in a week.

This time, the fire – again at the James Stellabuto Sr. residence – destroyed what was left of the interior, and the house sustained heavy damage.

Firefighters from the Big Run Area Volunteer Fire Company were called to the scene around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. It was fully involved when firefighters arrived on-scene.

Big Run Chief Todd Peace said a suspicious substance was found on the rear exterior wall of the home, which might have started Saturday's fire.

Cpl. Charles E. Gross, Troop C fire marshal, said Friday that the Tuesday fire at Stellabuto's home began sometime between 2 and 2:47 a.m. outside a garage in the rear of the building.

Gross said whoever started the Tuesday fire not only would be charged with arson, but also attempted homicide, since the owner was at home and inside the house when the fire broke out.

Tuesday, Stellabuto escaped the flames uninjured, with the total amount of estimated damage to the structure and a vehicle parked inside the garage believed to be approximately $160,000.

Gross said Friday that he's treating all other suspicious fires over the last year in the Big Run area — including a fire at Big Run Carpet, which Gross cited as arson; fires at two abandoned buildings along Hartzfeld Road; and several brush fires — as if they are connected.

Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police had been providing extra patrols throughout the Big Run area and Caroline Street to see if troopers could observe anyone acting suspiciously.

Anyone with information or who might have seen anything at any of these fire scenes is urged to call Gross at PSP-Punxsutawney at 938-0510.

All information will remain confidential.

Big Run firefighters were assisted at the scene by Sykesville, Central with its Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) and Lindsey refilling air bottles with its cascade system.

McCalmont Township was on standby at Big Run, and Reynoldsville at Sykesville.

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