New Castle News

April 16, 2013

City fire crews respond twice to vacant house

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A fire that broke out in a vacant house in Mahoningtown early Monday rekindled later in the morning.

The New Castle Fire Department was called to 502 W. Madison Ave. around 2:45 a.m., where they found the entire second floor of the house engulfed and broken windows with flames coming out on the first and second floors.

A tower truck was used to douse flames in the attic.

Fire Chief Tom Maciarello said that according to neighbors, a family of renters had moved out of the house two days earlier.

The house was owned by out-of-town landlords — Family Real Estate of Hollis Center, Maine.

Bonnie Johnson, whose address and post office box is listed the same as Family Real Estate, had purchased the house in a 2011 judicial sale, according to information from the county tax claim bureau. About $541, including the filing fee, was still owed in back county taxes on it from 2012.

“It was a big house,” Maciarello said Monday afternoon. “It took a long time to get (the fire) under control because the whole second floor was caved in. We had a lot of hot spots. My guys worked really hard and evidently didn’t get them all. We had to go back this morning. It was a tedious job.”

No injuries were reported.

The fire department was summoned to the house again Monday around 9:30 a.m. and spent time trying to knock down the fire after it had rekindled, Maciarello said.

There was no electrical power to the building, he pointed out.

“We really don’t know the last time someone was in there,” he said.

The New Castle police fire marshal was called Sunday night but no one was available then, Maciarello said Monday, and city code enforcement also was contacted to investigate.

The house was destroyed and the cause of the fire remains under investigation. The property loss is estimated at $40,000.