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SMPD, CFD issue statement regarding recent fires

July 16, 2012

Editor's note:
The following statement was issued by the City of St. Marys Police Department and the Crystal Fire Department late Monday afternoon:
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ST. MARYS - The St. Marys City Police and Crystal Fire Department recognize the concerns that the citizens have regarding the recent fires that have occurred. We want to assure the community that we are working very hard to resolve those investigations and are committed to doing all that we can while working with the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal and other agencies to make that happen.
In the meantime, we would like to offer some safety suggestions for citizens to follow:
Report any suspicious activity or people in your neighborhoods; utilize lighting with motion sensors; we ask that neighbors look out for each other.
We have more work to do and want our citizens to know that their well-being and safety are first and foremost in our minds. Do not hesitate to call police for anything that appears out of place or to report information that you may have heard regarding the fires.
The following is a recap from the Crystal Fire Department of the recent fire alarms which occurred in St. Marys. With all the recent fires and media coverage, the CFD would like to chronologically list the recent fires and a few facts surrounding them:
On July 9 at 11:36 p.m., the fire department was called to North St. Marys Street for a camper on fire. The fire destroyed the camper and damaged the house and a vehicle next to it. The cause of this fire is still under investigation and the cause has not yet been determined. There are some reports out that this was arson. (Editor's note: A report from the PSP Fire Marshal reported this incident as an arson.)
On July 10 at 10:50 p.m., the fire chief and police were called to investigate a car fire on Rettger Street. On arrival, it was found that the front driver's seat of a vehicle had been burned and this was determined to have been arson. The car suffered minor damage and is still drivable.
On July 10 at 4:46 a.m., the fire department was called out to Berwind Street for a shed fire. The shed and all its contents were destroyed. The cause of this fire is still under investigation and the cause has not yet been determined.
On July 12 at 4:14 a.m., the fire department was called out to Elk Regional Health Center for an activated alarm. There was no fire and it was determined to be dust in the sensor.
On July 14 at 4:24 a.m., the fire department was called out for a structure fire at 137 Lynch Rd. The fire caused heavy damage to the structure and the cause was determined to be arson. This fire is still under investigation.
The Crystal Fire Department would like to remind everyone of these very important fire safety tips: Install smoke detectors; check the batteries in your smoke detectors regularly; install carbon monoxide detectors; do not store flammable products in your house; inspect your homes and businesses for any fire hazards; and know your escape route and pre-designated meeting place.
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Editor's note:
A number of fires have occurred throughout Elk County since the end of May. Some have been ruled arson and some have been determined to have another cause/origin. Here is a recap of some of the other fires in the county since that time:
Pauline Smith was the first victim when a fire early Wednesday morning, May 30, destroyed her West Main Street residence. The blaze reportedly broke out between 5:15 and 5:30 a.m. and was ruled arson.
Officials investigated a June 17 fire that destroyed the Walnut Street home of Stephen and Georgina Gausman, who were out of town. The call reportedly came in at 2:58 a.m. The blaze caused an estimated $200,000 worth of damage and was determined to be arson.
A fire early Saturday morning, June 23, claimed the life of 89-year-old Elizabeth H. Verbeck of 8 Center St., Ridgway. This fire was not suspected to be arson.
Firefighters also responded early Thursday morning, June 28 at approximately 9 a.m. for a fire at the Old Johnsonburg Hotel along East Center Street. The fire was ruled an arson.
On July 3, the vacant St. Joe's Club at 703 Market St. in Johnsonburg went up in flames shortly after midnight. The cause of this fire was determined to be arson.

Pick up a copy of the Tuesday, July 17, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.

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