NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA) – Authorities continue to investigate the cause of two late night house fires in Westmoreland County; one of them sending four firefighters to the hospital.

According to fire officials, the first blaze started around 9:20 p.m. in the 400-block of Ridge Avenue in New Kensington.

The home was destroyed and homeowner Tom Bua says investigators told him they believe it may have been set to cover up a robbery.

“My entire life was in that house,” said Bua. “To torch the house? I mean, at least just rob me where I can get another TV; but like said, thank God I wasn’t home.”

Three firefighters suffered second-degree burns while fighting the fire, and were taken to Allegheny Valley Hospital. They were treated and released before midnight.

Chief Ed Saliba Sr., of the New Kensington Fire Department, says the heat was intense and there was a lot of smoke.

“We opened the door up. They went up the steps, and then whenever the air hit it, it blew,” said Chief Saliba. “They came rolling down the steps and all three of them, thank God, came outside.”

A fourth firefighter was also taken to the hospital after suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Within minutes of the first fire starting, a second one broke out a couple blocks away on McCargo Street. The fire chief says investigators believe the abandoned home may have been intentionally set on fire.

“That was arson there; somebody got into the basement and set the fire,” said Chief Saliba. “It got into the first floor.”

Chief Saliba says nothing was stolen from the empty house on McCargo Street, but neighbors say the area has been plagued by robberies in recent years.

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