West Kittanning Fire Case Closed, Undetermined

West Kittanning Borough Council members met and received updates about police and fire activity within the borough last night at their monthly council meeting.

by Jonathan Weaver

State police and fire investigators have concluded their investigation into a West Kittanning house fire last month, and found no substantial cause.

The fire started within a house on the Jack property along Arthur Street September 6.

West Kittanning Fire Chief Bernie Bowser, Sr. updated residents on the investigation during last night’s council meeting.

“The house has been razed and the property owner told me that he put sidewalk back in temporarily and he’s going to set the fence back,” Bowser, Sr. said. “The investigation has been closed. State police conferred and we met on that and we determined that any information received was not relevant to what happened, and being that there was no physical loss cost-wise, no loss to any other properties and no monetary-gain by anyone, the case is closed.

Council Vice-President and Borough Fire Chief Bernie Bowser, Sr. told residents and council members that an investigation on a September 6 fire on Arthur Street has been closed and officials have not been able to determine its cause.

“It was undetermined,” Bowser, Sr. concluded.

The property was a common eyesore around West Kittanning Borough as council members repeatedly discussed the house as a dilapidated property and reportedly contacted the owners for criminal damages. At first, the case was an arson investigation, but Bowser, Sr. said that those charges are hard to prove.

“That’s a real ungiven type of charge to try and prove, given that you don’t have any eyewitnesses and no visible after-effect evidence. It’s almost a given fact that you couldn’t prove anything,” Bowser, Sr. said.

Council members also praised the borough police force. Within Mayor Bernie Bowser, Jr’s monthly report, Police Officers Chris Airgood and Robert Gahagan issued 20 citations and 10 written warrants, in addition to assisting other nearby municipalities.

Bowser, Sr. said he has noticed a change in the borough.

“20 citations a month is an indicator that something’s happening in this borough –  I think about 90 percent of those are highway citations so it’s very obvious that the police department is working diligently,” Bowser said. “I can’t recall any particular month within the last couple years that we had 20 citations.”

He also praised East Franklin Township police officers for their willingness to also provide assistance within the borough.

In other news, council members unanimously approved advertising a firearms ordinance, barring any resident from discharging any firearm or air rifle, except for self-defense purposes, within the municipality. Violators will have to pay a fine of not more than $600, plus costs of prosecution. Failure to pay shall result in imprisonment for not more than 30 days.

A billboard/sign ordinance will also be drawn up by Solicitor Chase McClister for review at the council’s November 1 meeting. The meeting will begin at 6:30PM.

Anyone interested in joining the borough’s crime watch should contact Mickey Langham at 724-548-8822.