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Vandergrift service station fire ruled arson by police



VANDERGRIFT, Pa. - A state police fire marshal said a fire that badly damaged a family-owned service station and towing business in Vandergrift was intentionally set.

The fire was reported about 1:40 a.m. Sunday at Kochka's Towing and Car Care Center.

According to investigators, the fire was put out before it reached the gasoline pumps at the Citgo station. But the fire caused about $600,000 damage to a business that's been a fixture in the Westmoreland County borough for decades.

Paul Kochka, 75, has owned and operated the business for 52 years.

Joy Kochka said her husband "has lost his baby." The family plans to rebuild the business, however.

“This was my office, it’s all gone now,” Joy Kochka said. “I don’t know how he has a conscience. Who has a conscience and why would they do something like this? We’re asking because we help everyone in the community.”

Kochka said they’ve gotten a lot of help from their neighbors in the community.

“They’ve brought food in. They’ve brought drinks in. They’ve brought everything in. They’ve all been very nice,” Kochka said. “The business is going to come back better. We’re not giving up.”

Nobody was hurt, and no suspects have been named or charged.