New Castle News

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February 28, 2012

Police work to identify victim of fire

NEW CASTLE — New Castle police are still trying to identify a man who was found dead after a house fire Saturday morning.

New Castle Police Chief Bobby Salem said the victim is a black male, believed to be in his 40s. Anyone with information about his identity is asked to contact the police department at (724) 656-3586.

Mark Panella, assistant fire chief, said the victim had no identification or wallet.

The man was found lying on his back on the second floor of the house at 309 Phillips St. after the fire was put out.

The fire broke out around 5 a.m. on the second floor, which has a private entrance and outside steps.

According to a city fire department report, New Castle police had been summoned to the house Friday regarding an unconscious male, bleeding from his head as the result of a possible assault.

When police arrived, there was no injured person, the fire report said, and it is unknown whether that incident and the fire are related.

The police would not release any information about the suspected cause of the man’s death or the cause of the fire, pending further investigation.

The police took their crime lab unit to the scene and were searching for clues and evidence throughout the weekend.

Ashley Bucci, a next-door neighbor, said she believed a couple of people in their 20s lived or stayed in the downstairs of house. However, she said she does not know who they are.

She said she heard a smoke alarm and looked out and saw smoke and flames coming from the windows.

A couple who lived downstairs with two dogs escaped without injury, Panella said.

Natalie Rolle, who lives in a multi-family unit next door, called the fire department. Her family members said they awoke around 6 a.m. and saw smoke billowing from the second floor.

“I looked out and saw a lot of firetrucks and police cars,” said Cohen Rolle, 14.

“I heard the smoke alarm going off around 5 and there was a lot of smoke coming out of the house,” said Caleb Rolle, also 14.

“I looked out and saw a window with smoke coming out,” added 9-year-old Deandre Tubbs.

The neighbors believe two men lived upstairs and one who was in a wheelchair got out of the house.

The fire department report said a firefighter who was one of the first on scene made it up the stairwell to the second-floor landing, but he could not go any farther because of the heavy smoke and flames.

The door was unlocked where the body was found, and the man had suffered heavy burns, the report said.

The American Red Cross provided help to the people displaced by the fire.

(Email: dmorris@ncnewsonline.com)

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