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PSP fire marshal: Big Run Carpet fire was arson

June 23, 2011

A unit from the Sykesville Fire Department and the Lindsey Fire Company’s Tower 40 fight a fire at Big Run Carpet early Sunday morning in Big Run. (Photo by Tom Chapin)

BIG RUN — The Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal is now treating the investigation into the cause of a fire that destroyed Big Run Carpet early Sunday as a case of arson.

Cpl. Charles Gross, Troop-C fire marshal, said the fire that destroyed the business on Thompson Street in Big Run is undetermined at this time.

Gross said he has several samples that he took from the burned-out store that have been sent to the PSP crime lab.

An arson detection dog that went through the remains of the store had a hit on a possible accelerant that may have been used to start the fire, Gross said. The fire began in the southwest corner of the building.

Arson detection dogs, also known as accelerant detection dogs, are a type of working dog employed by police officers, fire marshals and forensics investigators to help determine the origin of a fire, and how it spread.

Gross said that the rear of the building didn’t have any utilities — other than a light switch and an electrical outlet — that could be linked to the point of origin.

Gross said he wasn’t ready to link the carpet store fire to any of the other suspicious fires that have occurred within the last year in the Big Run area, including two abandoned building fires that occurred on Hartzfeld Road earlier this year.

“From here on out, the Big Run Carpet fire will be treated as a a criminal investigation/arson fire,” Gross said.

The damage to the store was estimated at $500,000. There were no injuries.

Jeff London, the owner of the family owned business, was thankful for all of the help he and his family have received from the community following the fire.

Temporary structures were brought to the scene Monday to help get the family-owned business back on its feet, so London could continue doing business until the carpet store can be rebuilt.

Big Run Fire Chief Todd Peace said the store was fully involved when firefighters arrived on scene at 12:58 a.m. Sunday.

Meanwhile, Gross is also investigating the origin of the fire that broke out at 3 a.m. Saturday at a home located on Route 36 in Oliver Township.

Gross said at this time, he is unable to determine the cause of that fire, which gutted the structure except for the basement.

Wednesday, Gross said he checked all of the wiring in the home and still is unable to determine a cause.

The owner was not at home at the time of the fire.

Anyone with information about either fire should call Gross at PSP-Punxsutawney at 938-0510.

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