• Man, 27, tells police voices allegedly drove him to set destructive fire in Homestead


    HOMESTEAD, Pa. - Police said they have charged a man with arson in connection with a destructive fire outside the city of Pittsburgh Friday.

    Edward McDonald, 27, is facing several arson-related charges.

    When asked whether he set the fire, McDonald said, “Yes, I guess I did,” as he was led away by police in handcuffs Friday evening.

    McDonald allegedly told police that he poured lighter fluid on a couch and then lit it on fire because “he was hearing voices, and he was worried about the end of the world and the anti-Christ."  

    According to police, McDonald allegedly said he started the fire "as a way of dealing with the stress and torment he was feeling."

    Twenty-two fire departments responded to the five-alarm fire that quickly escalated after it was first reported around 4:30 a.m. Friday in Homestead. Homestead is located just a short distance from downtown Pittsburgh and across the river from other Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

    Two buildings collapsed while the fire raged on East 8th Avenue, but officials said no firefighters were hurt.

    One woman and one man were treated at UPMC Mercy Hospital for smoke inhalation. Two other people were rescued from the blaze.

    Just before 6:30 a.m. alarms were sounded for firefighters inside the burning buildings to evacuate.

    Initially, firefighters thought one person was unaccounted for and feared he may still be inside one of the burning buildings. However, just before 8 a.m., Channel 11 News learned that the man was found alive and unharmed.

    All other residents were accounted for.

    In addition to the apartment buildings, several businesses were also destroyed in the blaze.

    “It's like losing a family member,” said Homestead Mayor Betty Esper, who arrived at the scene early. “I feel so sorry for the business people who are trying so hard to bring this area back together."

    Officials said a total of nine apartments and five businesses were either destroyed or damaged in the fire.

    The Red Cross is helping eight adults with food, clothing and shelter. 

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