Fire under investigation at McKees Rocks house that was subject of lawsuit

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A Thursday night fire on Boquet Street in McKees Rocks remains under investigation today by Allegheny County fire marshals and police.

McKees Rocks police Chief Robert Cifrulak said officers responded to a home invasion call and "found the house fully involved in flame" and the tenant not present.

The tenant was later found and told police "he was the victim of a home invasion and that the two who invaded his home set it on fire," Chief Cifrulak said. “An Allegheny County detective that’s investigating it actually spoke with the resident there, and the [McKees Rocks] officer’s report indicated that the resident told him that two black males, armed with guns entered his house and set his house on fire.”

County police and fire marshals could not be immediately reached. A county dispatcher said the call came in about 7:52 p.m.

The property was the subject of an ejectment lawsuit filed by landlord Steven Smith against tenant Thomas Scott in October. According to that lawsuit, Mr. Scott had agreed in 2008 to gradually buy the property from Mr. Smith for $50,000, but stopped paying in about late 2012.

A week ago, Mr. Smith filed a motion claiming that Mr. Scott was "actively avoiding service of the complaint."

Mr. Smith said the house appeared to be a total loss.

“It was bad," Mr. Smith said, adding that he was shopping when he got a call alerting him to the fire. "It was one of the worst fires I’ve ever seen. It was a ball of flames."

“I’ve been [a landlord] for around 10 years, had a lot of things happen to me," Mr. Smith said. "But nothing like this. This makes me want to put for sale signs on all of them.”

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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