One Person Missing After Fire

ARMSTRONG TOWNSHIP — Investigators in Lycoming County said one person is unaccounted for after a fire near South Williamsport.

State police are not sure how the fire started, but the owner of the property believes it may be a case of arson.

The owner of the house near South Williamsport said the couple who rents the place was away when the fire started early this morning, but he said the couple’s son was staying at the house. Right now, investigators say one person is missing.

All that is left of this house on Mosquito Valley Road near South Williamsport is the cement foundation and walls. Investigators and state police arson dogs went through what was left, hours after flames destroyed the place.

“We had a lot of windows and doors stored upstairs. Building supplies. I mean a lot of storage. It’s all gone,” said Joseph Ertel.

“It’s just four walls and a foundation right now,” said Keith Oneal.

Keith Oneal is an inspector with the Duboistown Fire Department. He says there is too much damage to figure out what caused the fire, but he says one person is still missing.

The man who owns this building tells Newswatch 16 that the couple who rents the house was on vacation, but their son was staying in the home.

Building owner James Ertel says that man is an Iraqi war veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. Investigators would not confirm that this is the man they are looking for, but state police spent most of the day searching for someone.

“They used my four-wheeler to go back into the woods but they didn’t find anything yet. But it’s very suspicious,” James Ertel said.

Investigators say the state police fire marshal left the property around 3:45 p.m., and they say that they’ve determined the person who’s missing was not in the house.

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