String of arsons in Tidioute
Police are investigating a series of arsons in Tidioute.
According to police, seven vehicles and one building were damaged or destroyed by fire Sunday morning.
There were signs that someone attempted to start additional fires.
Only one structure, the concession stand at the ballfield, was among the arson targets.
Shortly before 2 a.m. police and fire were called to a vehicle fire and explosion behind Tidioute Towers.
While responders were on the scene a call went out for another car fire at 40 Grant St., according to Tidioute Borough Police Chief Steve Vincent.
“Then we found one on Main Street,” Tidioute Volunteer Fire Department First Assistant Chief Jack Fulkman said. “Some people started calling in attempted arsons in vehicles.”
After checking on several more fires over a period of seven hours, firefighters were heading home from the station when they received another call.
“We were just leaving the fire hall and there was smoke coming out of the concession stand at the ballfield,” Fulkman said.
That structure took significant damage to the lower story, including the loss of the contents of the building. Fulkman reported smoke and water damage throughout.
He said three vehicles, possibly a fourth, were total losses.
Firefighters, assisted by West Hickory, stayed on station until 1 p.m. Sunday.
Tidioute Borough Police were assisted by Pennsylvania State Police, including a forensics team out of Erie and an arson investigator out of Franklin.
No arrests have been made.
Vincent said it is possible that one person could have started all the fires, but “we believe there’s probably two.”
Officials have not yet determined what was used to start the fires nor whether an accelerant was used.
“We’ve collected evidence that needs processing. We had a lot of personnel here collecting as much information as we can,” Vincent said. “We just gotta put it all together.”
As police process the evidence, they are looking for any information from the public.
Vincent asks that residents report suspicious activity.
“Anything suspicious – 911 immediately,” he said. “It don’t matter how minor it may seem.”
Those who have information about the crimes are asked to contact Pennsylvania State Police at 728-3600 or Warren County Crime Stoppers at (800) 832-7463.
“If they have any information at all, no matter how little it seems, bring it forward,” Vincent said. “If they want to remain anonymous, call Warren County Crime Stoppers. There’s definitely someone who knows something about this.”
It is possible the crimes are related to a burglary in the borough that took place between 2:30 and 6 a.m. Saturday, Vincent said.
In response to the arsons, the borough has imposed a curfew for everyone under the age of 18. The curfew hours begin at 10 p.m.
“In no way are we accusing any minors at all,” Vincent said. “We did it for their safety. We don’t want anyone getting hurt.”
Officials are also asking residents to lock all homes, garages, and vehicles.