Meadville Tribune

November 25, 2012

Linesville family faces second fire this month


Meadville Tribune

CONNEAUT TOWNSHIP — A Linesville family already reeling from the loss of a loved one in a fatal fire was apparently the target of a fire Friday night that has been ruled arson.

Linesville Volunteer Fire Department Chief William Mickle and his company had just returned to quarters from a fire at Conneaut Lake when they received a call to a structure fire with entrapment at 14857 Airport Road at approximately 11:30 p.m.

“When we got the call and I heard the address, I said to another fireman, ‘We’ve had enough,’” Mickle said. “My heart just hit the ground.”

The address is the residence of Joan Simmerman, the mother of Heather E. Baker, whose family lost its home to a fire on Nov. 15 that also claimed the life of 16-year-old Zachary Aaron Baker. Baker, her husband, Raymond E., and their family have been living with Simmerman since and were inside the home when the fire broke out Friday.

“Thankfully,” when the fire department arrived on scene the fire was out and  “no one was in harm’s way inside the home,” Mickle said. The whole family was on the ground floor inside the home and could have escaped if it had been necessary, he added.

The chief said a mattress inside the home had been set on fire. The fire has been ruled suspicious and has been turned over to Pennsylvania State Police for investigation. The suspect is a known junvenile, according to police, who confirmed they are investigating the arson, but had no further information to release on Saturday.

Police said the suspect attempted to start a fire at three separate locations inside the Airport Road home.

“It looked like a rug inside the home had been set on fire,” Mickle said. “They were all within the structure.”

Mickle said at this time it doesn’t appear the fire Friday night or the fire Nov. 15 at 14948 Airport Road are related.

Mickle said there were no injuries and little to no damage to the structure.

“The mattress was damaged. But other than that there wasn’t even any smoke damage or even water damage,” Mickle said, noting the quick work by family members to put the fire out.