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Fire breaks out at vacant building in Berks Co.

Mount Penn, Pottstown men charged in connection with blaze

2 men charged in fire that destroyed abandoned farmhouse

LOWER ALSACE TWP., Pa. - A fire that destroyed a vacant farmhouse in Berks County is a case of arson, police said Monday.

Fire crews were called back to the scene of the major fire after flames rekindled Monday at the historic farmhouse in Lower Alsace Township.

The fire was reported shortly after 11:30 p.m. Sunday at the boarded-up home at 108 Old Angora Rd. Firefighters battled against a frozen fire hydrant and other obstacles made even more difficult by Mother Nature.

"The roof has collapsed on the one side and underneath the roof is pockets of fire," said Rick Gerhart, fire marshal for Lower Alsace Township.

A Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal was called in after the inferno was intentionally set Sunday night, police said.

"Flames were already coming through the window and starting to head through the roof," said Gerhart.

According to police, Tyler Shakespeare, 19, of Mount Penn, and Christopher Falini, 21, of Pottstown, Montgomery Co., have been charged with causing a catastrophe, criminal conspiracy, mischief by fire and criminal trespass. Two other juveniles have not been charged.

"I just feel so sad and devastated that the great loss we have here in Stony Creek and it is no more," said Corrie Crupi, a local mountain historian in Berks County.

Crupi said the building is steeped in history and is between 150- and 200-years-old. It was part of the Paul Feger Mill, and years later in 1864 it became part of Kraemer Mill.

"They tell me this double stone structure was used to house a soap making area, which they would launder the wool, and the other side was used as a general store or a company store," said Crupi.

No one was injured in the fire.

Charges against Shakespeare and Falini could be amended pending the outcome of the investigation, said police.

Images: Flames engulf 19th century building

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