PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Arson investigators are looking into a series of fires in abandoned homes in Westmoreland County.
Officials are now going through surveillance video to try to help with the investigation.
The mayor of Monessen says the problem is two-fold.
First and foremost, they have to catch the person responsible. Second, they’re dealing with a much larger issue in the amount of vacant homes that become the perfect target for vandals and arsonists.
Evidence was found that an accelerant was used in four fires that officials believe were set Friday night into early Saturday morning.
Monessen Mayor Lou Mavrakis said there have been five suspected arson cases since Dec. 29, leaving the local firefighters exhausted and injured and the police department extremely busy.
“Our chief is meeting with the fire marshal. We’re looking at our surveillance cameras that we have in the city. Hopefully, they’ll show something and we’ll be able to get someone on that camera and detect who it is,” Mavrakis said.
Mavrakis said the fires are bringing attention to a bigger issue in this Mon Valley community.
“This is how much blight we have in this area,” he said. “This is where you’re having all your fires that you’re having in this area.”
A map shows over 160 homes that need to be demolished and with no way to tear down all of the houses, they have now become the perfect target.
“We don’t have the money to demo what you’ve done, the ones you’ve set on fire. Please stop. We don’t want any children, we don’t want our firemen to get hurt. We don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Mavrakis said.
Three firefighters were injured over the weekend responding to one of the four suspicious fires.