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Reward offered for arson information

August 2, 2011

A fire determined to be arson destroyed Big Run Carpet June 19. A reward is being offered for information that leads to the conviction and the arrest of those responsible. (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

BIG RUN — Another fire in Big Run has been ruled arson by the state police fire marshal, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has entered the investigation and is offering a reward for tips that could lead to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for the arsons.

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

Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshall Cpl. Charles E. Gross said the fire originated on the exterior of the residence at 204 Caroline St., and the fire was classified as incendiary.

Big Run firefighters were called to the scene at approximately 2:30 a.m. Saturday, and the fire was fully involved when they arrived.

While battling the blaze, firefighters discovered a type of accelerant had been placed on the rear exterior of the home.

Gross said this was the same house located at 204 Caroline St. that was heavily damaged by another arson fire July 26, so the owner, James Stellabuto Sr., was not living in the residence at the time of the second fire that destroyed the rest of the home's interior.

Gross said last week he has been investigating numerous fires in the Big Run and Henderson Township areas that have been determined to be arson or to have undetermined causes in recent months, including the Big Run Carpet store fire June 19 that destroyed the business located on Thompson Street.

The former Little Canada Bar and Grill on Filtering Plant Road was destroyed by a fire Feb. 18, and the cause of that blaze is still listed as undetermined, he said.

Gross said he's treating all of the other suspicious fires that have occurred within the last year in the Big Run area — including the two abandoned building fires that occurred on Hartzfeld Road and several brush fires — as if they are all connected.

Anyone with information is asked to call the PSP-Punxsutawney Fire Marshal Unit at 938-0510, and information will remain confidential.

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