NEW CASTLE — Top 10 Stories, Number 10: Easter Sunday fire had tragic outcome
By John K. Manna
New Castle News
Shortly after 2 p.m. on April 8, North Beaver Township firefighters arrived at the scene of a house fire.
It was Easter Sunday, and unlike most fires, firefighters were unable to attempt to extinguish the blaze.
That’s because Ronald Covert, 53, of Negley, Ohio, was pointing a shotgun at them, preventing the firefighters from trying to save the house on New Road.
North Beaver fire chief Paul Henry said at the time that Covert told the chief, “Let it burn.”
There was no doubt who started the fire, Henry said this week.
“He (Covert) started it and held us at bay until it burned to the basement.”
When they realized they would not be able to get to the blaze, firefighters called state police.
According to Trooper Harry Gustafson, troopers repeatedly told Covert to drop the weapon, but he refused. Then he shot himself in the head.
He was pronounced dead at the scene by a Lawrence County deputy coroner.
After the shooting, firefighters were able to get to the house, but it was too late to save the home of Linda Shoaff. The house was destroyed.
Henry said it was the first time in his 24 years as a fireman that he had experienced such a situation.
There was no loss of human life, but two of Shoaff’s dogs perished in the fire. Shoaff lost everything in the house and was left homeless.
Gustafson said at the time that Covert was Shoaff’s ex-boyfriend, adding that she had recently had obtained a protection from abuse order against him.
Henry said the site was eventually cleaned up and a modular home was placed on the site, and that Shoaff is now living there.