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Plasterers blaze was arson, fire marshal says

March 27, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- A Thursday night fire that damaged the rear of Plasterers Florist in Chambersburg is believed to have been intentionally set, a Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal said.

Fire Marshal Jeff Sarver said he is investigating the exact cause of the fire, but said he is certain the blaze was intentionally set.

"The only thing that could have initiated this fire was a human hand," Sarver said.

The fire at 990 Lincoln Way East was reported Thursday about 8 p.m., officials said.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, they found the rear of the building engulfed in flames, Sarver said.

The burn pattern of the fire indicated it was started on a stack of pallets and cardboard behind the store, he said.

The open space beneath the pallets fueled the fire, which spread from the pallets and cardboard to a blue container filled with newspaper and eventually through a wooden door into the compressor room behind the store, Sarver said. The interior of the store was not damaged, he said.

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Police estimate the store sustained about $10,000 in damage.

It could have been worse if it had been colder Thursday night, Sarver said.

"The fire damaged one of the compressors that is used to heat the plants," he said. "If the temperature had dropped any lower than 40 degrees last night, the store could have lost a lot of plants."

Sarver said he is working with the Chambersburg Police Department to identify those involved in the blaze.

Police have not said if the blaze was related to a case of vandalism at the store last week.

Last week, a Plasterers van was painted with what Sarver called "simulated" gang signs.

While state police do not suspect the blaze is connected to another arson in Chambersburg earlier this month, Sarver said he is encouraging residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police.

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