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Washington House set on fire 2nd time

April 21, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Heavily damaged last year by a fire investigators ruled as arson, the Washington House Hotel was set on fire again Tuesday night.

Two fires in second floor rooms were ruled arson, according to Chambersburg Emergency Services Chief Allen Baldwin. The fires were called in at 7:52 p.m., he said.

There were no suspects in Tuesday's fire, Baldwin said. Although the October fire that closed the business was also ruled an arson, police have made no arrests in that case, either.

Baldwin said Wednesday the fires in the rooms were "well-involved" by the time the first units arrived at the Washington House, 204 Lincoln Way East. He said the rooms are about 50 feet apart.

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Borough police, investigators from the fire department and Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Trooper Skip Sydnor are investigating Tuesday night's fires, Baldwin said.

Firefighters from the Franklin, New Franklin, Fayetteville and West End Shippensburg fire companies assisted at the scene. Baldwin said the Franklin County Air Unit was also called in.

One firefighter received a minor hand injury, he said. The last units left the scene at about 11:15 p.m.

"We were very careful with the people we sent in," Baldwin said. The hotel, owned by Thomas and Charles Kalathas, was already filled with wreckage from upper floors that were demolished after the Oct. 17 fire.

In recent days a contractor has been preparing the hotel for demolition, a job slowed by asbestos in the building. After the first fire, the top two floors were demolished to reduce the risk of rubble falling onto the sidewalk or streets.

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