Couple escapes fire

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A mother and her son are homeless after someone set a fire that ripped through their Youngstown home.

The fire happened just before midnight Sunday in the 200 block of East Philadelphia Avenue on the city’s South Side. Investigators suspect the fire was the result of arson.

The two, and another person staying with them, said they were in their living room watching T.V. when someone threw something on the porch, which ignited the blaze.

“The front porch was on fire and the fire extended up to the front of the house,” said firefighter Tim McGarry.

The man and woman scrambled to get to safety as the home burned. When crews arrived, they worked quickly to knock down the flames, but the fire caused extensive damage to the house.

A neighbor told investigators he saw three teens running away from the home when the fire started.

Chief fire investigator Alvin Ware said it appears those responsible for setting the fire first poured an accelerant on the house.

“No way this could have been that totally involved when we got here without accelerant,” Ware said.

Investigators released few details about the blaze, but said they believe more than one person was involved. A $5,000 reward has been posted for anyone who gives information leading to convictions.

The house was destroyed and the family is being assisted by the Mahoning Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The house next door was set on fire about three weeks ago. No one was hurt in that fire, which also is a suspected arson. The fire department let that house burn to the ground because it was vacant.

City officials said they try to demolish burned-out homes within 30 days.

“We’ve been working on it as fast as possible, but we have a lot of them,” said 6th Ward Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, whose ward includes the home that was burned. “We probably have the most in the whole state of Ohio. And so, we’re just trying to get them done.”

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