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House fire ruled arson

Blaze started on home’s second floor

A house fire last week on the 800 block of Sixth Avenue was intentionally set, according to the Altoona Fire Department.

“We did make a ruling that it is incendiary in nature,” Altoona Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Tofano said Friday.

Firefighters were called out at 11:40 p.m. July 26, for a house fire at 817 Sixth Ave.

The day after the blaze, it was deemed suspicious and a subsequent investigation found evidence it was intentionally set, Tofano said Friday. He declined to give details about the cause but did say it started on the second floor in a front room.

Tofano said other causes, such as an electrical fire, were ruled out during the investigation, which is now in the hands of the Altoona police’s arson investigator.

Tofano pointed out that retired Altoona Fire Inspector Timothy Hughes and his Labrador retriever arson dog, Tyra, were brought in to assist. The dog is trained to sniff out accelerants used to start fires.

No one was home at the time of the fire and it was under control in about 45 minutes. Tofano said Monday the family was on vacation at the time.

Heavy fire on the second floor and into the attic greeted responding firefighters Sunday and a neighboring home was beginning to burn.

The home is considered a total loss with damage estimated at between $20,000 and $30,000, Tofano said.

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