Suspicious fire destroys two vacant homes

EAST LIVERPOOL – A blaze that destroyed two vacant structures early Friday morning on McKee Street is being called suspicious by city fire officials.

Firefighters were alerted at 2:12 a.m. by the police department about a structure fire on Dresden Avenue, but the four men on duty arrived to find a house at 1336 McKee Street fully involved.

A third alarm was sounded, bringing an additional seven firefighters and Chief William Smith to the scene, where they found the roof had already burned off the structure.

The fire had extended to a structure at 1338 McKee Street which had fallen victim to a fire on March 11, and it, too, was fully involved when firefighters arrived on the scene.

According to officials, it was obvious the fire had raged for some time before the alarm was raised.

Flames roared into the sky and people reported seeing them and heavy smoke from state Route 11. Smoke from the blaze could still be seen and smelled throughout the city for hours after the fire was extinguished.

Firefighters remained on the scene until 7:45 a.m., and assistant Chief Eric Croxall said late Friday afternoon there were still hot spots being found in the rubble.

Declared a total loss, the houses are owned by Robert Blystone of 6th Avenue, LaCroft, and Croxall said it was not known Friday whether they were insured.