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February 18, 2013

Fatal Fire: Police probe blaze that kills two

NEW CASTLE — Two people died in an early morning fire that engulfed a mobile home yesterday on Route 488 in Perry Township.

State police identified the victims as Phillip James Illig Sr., 49, and Jessica Lynn Morehouse, 28, both of 6247 Route 488, Portersville.

Wurtemburg-Perry Fire Chief Mark McDevitt said firefighters received the call at 2:14 a.m., and when they arrived at the scene the mobile home was fully involved. Half of the structure was already “consumed,” he said.

That portion contained the bedroom where the man and woman were found and where the fire originated, McDevitt said. At the point of origin, he continued, “the roof was almost all gone.”

The fire was reported by a passerby, state police said.

“I couldn’t say how long it burned before the passerby saw it,” McDevitt said.

Firefighters, he said, “had suspicion they (the victims) were in there. We saw a car in the driveway which indicates somebody” was inside and that there was “entrapment.”

Two dogs also perished in the fire, McDevitt added.

Asked about the cause, McDevitt said, “The destruction was so great it’s hard to pinpoint.”

He said state police are investigating to determine the cause.

McDevitt said his department returned to the station around 6:45 a.m.

Assisting Wurtemburg-Perry were Ellwood City, Wayne, Chewton, Franklin Township and Portersville fire departments and Portersville EMS.

(Email: jmanna@ncnewsonline.com)

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