SHARON, Pa. (WYTV) – Investigators have ruled that arson was the cause of a fire that damaged a historic Sharon house on Thursday.
According to the Sharon Fire Department, the Pennsylvania State Fire Marshal ruled that the fire was intentionally set.
Considered a piece of Sharon history — and a house that was once part of “Millionaires Row” — the home on Irvine Street now sits boarded up and missing a portion of its roof.
“It was a large structure. It was one we hated to see burn,” said Sharon Fire Chief and City Manager Bob Fiscus.
The West Hill historic home was vacant. It was built in 1910 by Hugh Jones, an insurance real estate mogul.
“This particular home, a Georgian neo-colonial architecture and a very important home. Very sad to lose it this morning,” said Brian Kepple, with the Sharon Historical Society, on Thursday.
Smoke poured out of the top of the house just after 8 a.m. Thursday. The State Fire Marshal ruled the fire started on either the second or third floor.
Fire investigators with the state have become familiar with Irvine. Just last month, they were there for another arson.
“The call volume related to fires has grown exponentially,” Fiscus said.
The city has seen over 20 fires set intentionally in 2017.
“They’re scary and it’s something that’s actively being addressed. I know our police department has made numerous arrests,” Fiscus said.
These arsons not only take a toll on the fire department, but Councilman Bill James said they hurt the city’s budget, too.
“If they’re not insured, it’s on the city and the cost is anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per house.”
Fiscus said the city set aside around $200,000 to remove dilapidated and vacant homes this year. In years past, they only budgeted roughly $30,000.
“The plan is to take down 50 to 60 houses a year for the next five years to push back against the epidemic,” Fiscus said.
Kepple said the house was in poor shape but there were people interested in restoring it.
According to the fire department, the house will be torn down unless an investor comes forward with plans to fix it.
“It could be repaired. I think the longer it goes, the more it’s going to deteriorate with as much as the roof that burned off of it. There’s nothing to protect the house from the elements at this point,” Fiscus said.
No suspects have been identified yet. The Sharon Police Department has not returned calls about any leads on who may have set Thursday’s fire.