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Arrest made in vacant house fire in Williamsport

Daniel Alfred Levasseur is awaiting review on charges of second-degree arson, first-degree malicious burning and malicious destruction of property

July 18, 2013
  • Firefighters walk through white foam Wednesday in back of 20 N. Artizan St. in Williamsport after a vacant home caught fire.
Joe Crocetta , Staff Photographer

WILLIAMSPORT — A Williamsport man was arrested late Wednesday night and charged with intentionally setting fire to a vacant two-story house on North Artizan Street in the town, the state fire marshal’s office said.

Daniel Alfred Levasseur, 57, was arrested after an investigation revealed he allegedly set two separate fires inside the kitchen at the rear of the dwelling, according to a news release from the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Levasseur is awaiting review before a Washington District Court Commissioner at the Washington County Detention Center on charges of second-degree arson, first-degree malicious burning and malicious destruction of property, according to the release.

If convicted of the charges, he faces a penalty of up to 28 years imprisonment and/or $37,500 in fines, the release said.

An accelerant K-9 unit positively alerted on debris inside the kitchen where the fire originated, the release said.

A neighbor called 911 after observing a suspect running from the home as heavy smoke was escaping from the eaves of the home at 20 N. Artizan St., the release said.

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The one-alarm fire, which was brought under control in about 30 minutes, was contained to the kitchen and caused an estimated $35,000 in damage to the structure, the release said.

The fire raised immediate suspicions about its cause, according to Washington County Emergency Services Director Kevin Lewis.

The house is part of the Red Barron property, which is the site of a proposed Sheetz. It is maintained by Higher Ground Realty, the release said.

There have been problems with people entering structures around the house and vandalizing them, Lewis said.

There is another vacant house behind the one that caught fire, and a larger building runs along East Potomac Street next to the houses.

Lewis said when he arrived at the scene, there was heavy fire at the back of the two-story house.

Despite temperatures in the mid-90s and traffic backups around town due to a serious traffic accident on Interstate 81 near Williamsport, firefighters were able to extinguish the fire before it spread to other parts of the house, Lewis said.

Due to the sweltering heat, officials called for more personnel so there would be enough manpower to battle the fire, Lewis said.

Firefighters fought the blaze for 10 to 15 minutes at time, and misting fans were used to try to protect them from the heat, Lewis said.

Authorities also monitored firefighters’ vital signs to make sure they were not suffering any ill effects from the heat, Lewis said.

About 50 firefighters from Williamsport, Halfway, Funkstown, Clear Spring and the Maugansville Volunteer Fire Departments, and the Washington County Special Ops, Air and Rehab support units responded to the blaze, the release said.
 

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