SHADYSIDE (KDKA) – One man has been arrested in connection with a three-alarm fire in Shadyside that left four firefighters injured early Monday morning.
Arson investigators were only on the scene for a couple of hours when they made an arrest and charged a neighbor who had just recently moved into the mental and behavioral health care home next door.
A calm 18-year-old James Casson could be seen talking with an arson investigator while fire crews were still working to put out the fire on Maryland Avenue.
An hour later, Casson was handcuffed and extremely emotional after being charged with arson.
“An eyewitness observed him lighting materials on fire and throwing it on the roof of this house,” Detective Michael Burns said. “We had witnesses that came forward and that helped us tremendously.”
Casson lived in a residential facility for individuals with mental health and behavioral issues. He had only moved in about a week ago.
The executive director said they house seven individuals and try to teach them life skills and wanted to assure that this is the first time they’ve had any problems in the 15 years they’ve been open.
“This is the first incident at this site and in fact, I’ve been with the agency 21 years and this is the first incident of any type that happened,” Residential Care Services Executive Director Beth Monteverde said.
The fire put several firefighters’ lives in danger as well. While searching for the source of the fire and a tenant that was initially unaccounted for, three firefighters were burned and fourth also had minor injuries.
“Panic, a little bit, urgency in their voice. That they had a flashover, that guys were burned, and that they were working their way out of the building,” Batallion Chief Tim Kopicko said. “It wasn’t long before we got accountability of our guys and knew that they were all out of the building. Nobody was trapped or anything, but they were burned.”
On top of the arson charge, Casson is also facing additional charges for each injured firefighter.
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