Alleged thief causes outage

EAST LIVERPOOL – A city man caught fire after allegedly breaking into a main electric substation early Sunday morning, and in the process knocked out power to 3,000 homes for up to six hours.

Police identified the man as Joseph Monteiro, 47, of St. Clair Avenue, who remains hospitalized with burns suffered from the incident.

According to police, a caller reported seeing a man inside the American Electric Power main substation on lower St. Clair Avenue at 12:20 a.m. Sunday and that the man had caught fire.

Police responded to the substation and were met by witnesses, who said they saw the man walking south on Avondale Street, which is where the officers caught up with him.

The man was identified as Monteiro, and police determined he had removed a section of plastic chain from the substation’s front gate and used it in an attempt to pull a large black wire from under the fence. The live wire touched a fence pole, causing it to arc and catch Monteiro on fire, police said.

His keys were found hanging on the fence, along with a burnt pack of cigarettes and other items, including a piece of paper containing suspected drugs. Police walked along the fence, taking photographs of footprints in the snow, which reportedly matched Monteiro’s shoes.

Meanwhile, an ambulance crew arrived to treat Monteiro, who was flown by helicopter to a Pittsburgh hospital, where his condition is unknown.

His actions not only knocked out electricity to a large section of town but disrupted power at East Liverpool City Hospital and several nursing homes.

The investigation is continuing, and charges are expected to be filed.