NEW CASTLE (KDKA) — Authorities are investigating following a house fire overnight in Lawrence County that forced neighbors to evacuate their homes.

The blaze broke out in the vacant two-story home on Waldo Street around 2 a.m. in New Castle.

“The cause was definitely arson,” New Castle Fire Chief Thomas Maciarello said. “We found multiple sets inside the building, the back door. The police were first on the scene. They found the back door open.”

Flames could be seen shooting into the air. Part of the roof collapse and firefighters had to deal with water pressure problems.

“For the amount of flames and damage, it was quite horrific for a while there,” Maciarello said.

Officials say the people living in the neighboring homes on each side of the residence where the fire broke out were evacuated.

Ron Kennedy, his fiancée and children got out just in time.

“It was getting to the point where we couldn’t breathe in there because [there was] so much smoke,” he said.

This is the third suspicious fire in the neighborhood within the last two weeks.

Several years ago, eight people were arrested for setting 50 fires in New Castle.

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