PITTSBURG — Part of the former Pittcraft Printing facility is a total loss after an apparent arson fire early Tuesday morning.
According to a release from the Pittsburg Police Department, at about 2:06 a.m. the Pittsburg Fire Department was called to a structure fire at the former Pittcraft building in the 100 block of North Locust, to find the former front office fully involved.
PFD worked on extinguishing the blaze for several hours, during which one Pittsburg firefighter received injuries from falling debris. The firefighter was taken to Via Christi Health, in Pittsburg, for treatment and was later released.
While at the scene, officers made contact with John C. Chambers, 34, of Pittsburg.
Chambers, a homeless man, according to police subsequently confessed to illegally squatting in the Pittcraft Printing building and intentionally setting the fire.
He was arrested for arson of a non-dwelling and criminal trespass, and is being held in on $50,000 bond at the Crawford County Jail, pending formal charges.
One of the owners of Pittcraft, Tom Dayton, said the building was unoccupied at the time of the fire, and has not been used for about 10 years.
“It was empty other than storage in the back,” he said.
Dayton said the former office structure and another smaller structure behind it are a total loss, but the former production floor has some water and smoke damage, but can be repaired.
According to Dayton, Chambers appeared to have gotten in through a broken window or door on the back of the building.
“We’d noticed some stuff like people were in there,” he said. “We just boarded it back up.”
PPD asks that owners of vacant properties to please routinely inspect their buildings for indications of damage, tampering, trespassing, theft or any other signs of criminal activity. If anything is discovered, please contact local law enforcement.
The Pittsburg Police Department and the Pittsburg Fire Department are continuing to investigate this matter. Anyone having information related to this incident, or other crimes, is urged to contact the Pittsburg Police Department at (620) 231-1700, or at the tip line, (620) 231-TIPS (8477). Callers may remain anonymous.
— Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @PittEditor.