WEST READING, Pa. - West Reading police released new details Wednesday about a recent house fire. They said it was no accident, and they have a warning for residents.
Firefighters and police officers were first called to a home in the 400 block of Pine Street last Tuesday for a possible structure fire.
Crews found smoke pouring from the third floor window, but when they went inside to fight the blaze, they found something unusual.
"They contained that fire and while inside, noticed that some things looked out of place, didn't look right, almost looked like someone had gone through the residence," said Chief Stephen Powell, West Reading Police Department.
Powell said that is when officers knew the home may have been burglarized and called in a state police fire marshal and Berks County forensic unit to help gather evidence.
"It was determined that items were missing and presumed stolen and that the fire was in fact deliberately set," said Powell.
The man responsible is Kelvin Lopez-Ortiz, 25, of the 400 block of Woodward Street in Reading, police said. He has been jailed on more than two dozen charges, including multiple counts of arson and conspiracy.
One neighbor in West Reading said he has previously seen two men hanging out near the residence. The neighbor, who didn't want to be identified, said he believes the suspect targeted the home, knowing the victim is elderly and was not home.
"It is a shame because she is an older woman and nobody deserves that, especially someone that has lived here and caused no trouble for 90 years," he said.
If you are going to be away from your home for an extended period of time, police advised that you alert them so they can keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
Allentown, PA 18102