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Arson in Big Run again: Firefighters called to same house for smoke hours earlier

August 10, 2011

Members of the state police forensics investigation team were assisting Cpl. Charles E. Gross, fire marshal, with the investigation of a fire — later ruled as arson — at a vacant home on Pennsylvania Avenue in Big Run Tuesday. (Photo by Larry McGuire)

BIG RUN — A fire at a vacant house at 201 Pennsylvania Ave. around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday has been ruled to be arson — again — by the Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal.

And again, police have classified the fire as arson.

According to scanner reports, when Big Run Fire Chief Todd Peace arrived on-scene, there were no smoke or flames showing from the brick structure, but at least one fire was discovered inside the residence and quickly extinguished by Big Run, Sykesville and McCalmont Township firefighters.

Peace said that Big Run firefighters were called out at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday for a smoke investigation in that very same location, but were unable to locate a fire and may have been at this same residence and continued to smolder.

Peace said a former occupant of the house had returned to that location to retrieve some personal items and discovered the smoke coming from the basement and reported it to 911.

Cpl. Charles E. Gross, state police fire marshal, investigated the fire’s origin with the assistance from other forensic investigators, and ruled the origin to once again be arson.

Recently, Big Run officials and firefighters have been battling numerous suspicious fires that were ruled as arson, two of which were at the same house on Caroline Street, as well as at Big Run Carpet, two abandoned houses on Hartzfeld Road and numerous brush fires.

A fire at the former Little Canada was ruled undetermined.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individual(s) involved with any of the fires in the Big Run area.

All firefighters who fought the fire inside the house were ordered to remain on-scene until the investigation was completed Tuesday.

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