JEANNETTE (KDKA) — Residents in Jeannette are on alert while police investigate two recent fires that are considered to be suspicious.
One of the fires destroyed a three-story commercial building over the weekend.
According to sources, it’s likely the cause of the fire late last Saturday night will never be known, but there are some indications it may not have been an accident.
Heat, smoke and flames engulfed the building, which was formerly a Family Dollar store.
“We had a structural collapse; we had some equipment get damaged,” said Jeannette Fire Department Capt. Mike Bertolino.
After the smoke cleared, the fire had completely razed the structure.
“It was pretty close. It could have been bad,” said Capt. Bertolino.
The cause remains undetermined, but sources say there are indications that people may have been in the building prior to the fire, including a normally closed and padlocked door that was left open.
The other fire happened early Sunday morning on North 3rd Street. The cause of the fire has been determined as arson.
“I knew it was going to burn down sooner or later. It’s been empty for at least 10 years,” said neighbor Joan Bittner. “Why? I’d like to know why they set it on fire. What did they accomplish other than maybe trying to set mine on fire, too.”
These latest fires have sparked dark memories of a series of arsons in Jeannette between 2009 and 2012. Six people were arrested and convicted of arson.
Officials say if an arsonist is at work again in Jeannette the best way to capture them will be with the public’s help – don’t be scared, be aware.