Weekend barn fire on North Quarry Road has been ruled arson

By Jason Hawk - jhawk@aimmediamidwest.com

A pole barn fire has been ruled arson and investigators say there’s evidence someone tried to ignite three other structures early Saturday at a North Quarry Road property.

A driver on Rt. 2 spotted flames shooting from a barn at the vacant estate around 6:13 a.m. and called for help, according to an Amherst police report.

“Much of the barn had already burnt to the ground and it was evident the fire had been burning for some time,” Sgt. Jacob Perez wrote.

The building was a complete loss by the time firefighters arrived, fire chief Jim Wilhelm said.

“We got there and it was pretty much on the ground,” he told the News-Times. “The roof was burned off and it had probably been burning a couple of hours before somebody called it in.”

His crew had the flames doused within a half hour but worked longer on hot spots in the rubble.

Assistant fire chief Brandon Dimacchia inspected three other structures on the same property.

He found evidence someone had tried to light a house porch on fire, pile pine needles against the door of a cottage and light them, and set blaze to a beam inside a much larger barn, said Wilhelm.

In all three cases, the flames went out on their own, likely because weather conditions were so wet.

While there was evidence at least one of the barns had been used previously to house animals, the property had been vacant for months.

“To the best of our knowledge, the people who lived there were gone in either very early January or December. They were evicted from the place,” Wilhelm said.

A realtor told firefighters the property had been sold Friday and was in the midst of the transaction.

Damage was estimated at $25,000 for insurance purposes.

The investigation has been turned over to state fire marshals and Amherst detectives. Wilhelm said he expects them to put up a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect.

“People talk. It might take a while, but I’m sure something will pop out of it,” the fire chief said.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk