SOUTH PARK TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) — Police have charged a young man with arson following a fire in South Park Township early Wednesday morning.
Flames could be seen shooting up from the roof and back of a vacant home on Grove Road in South Park. Police said 22 Jeremy Burton, 22, is accused of setting the home on fire.
Burton’s mom called 911. She lives in a duplex next door and said she was woken up to her son yelling. He lives in the duplex next to her. Burton’s mom didn’t want her face shown on TV so KDKA’s Amy Wadas talked to her through her door.
Burton’s mom: “He’s been going through some rough times and I guess he just hit rock bottom and blew up.”
Amy Wadas: “Has he ever done anything to this magnitude before?”
Mom: “No. JJ’s a really good kid.”
A neighbor told officers that he saw Burton start the fire. He said he saw him burning items in the back of his home outside then throwing the items that were on fire on the back porch of the vacant home.
Amy Wadas: “So what do you think caused him to kind of snap?”
Mom: “He’s been going through a lot of car trouble, he’s been having some other issues and just had them all at one time and just didn’t handle it very well.”
Amy Wadas: “Were you worried about your home catching fire initially?”
Mom: “I was. I was more so worried about him too.”
Police searched the duplex to make sure no one else was inside in case the fire spread. When officers got to the second floor, they found Burton lying on a bed and took him into custody.
Collin Helsel had been fixing up the vacant home for several months in hopes of selling it and said he’s put tens of thousands of dollars into it so far. After this fire, he said it’s going to have to likely come down.
“It’s completely shot. It’s done,” Helsel said. “There’s no salvaging it. You put more money than it’s worth. It’s upsetting but what can you do.”
Before Burton was taken to the Allegheny county Jail, he was held in a jail cell at the South Park police station. Police said they could smell alcohol on his breath and was very confrontational with officers.
No one was hurt in this fire.