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Arson charges filed against man for blaze that destroyed historic South Side building

PITTSBURGH — A man admitted to starting the massive fire in February that ripped through a 150-year-old historic building in Pittsburgh’s South Side.

Police say Christian Ross, 25, was a former resident of the apartment building next to the welcome center for the South Side Chamber of Commerce on East Carson Street.

According to the criminal complaint, Ross admitted to setting the fire and wrote the confession from jail where he was housed on unrelated charges, saying, “it’s been weighing on me.”

More than 60 firefighters, 20 police officers and 10 paramedics responded to the blaze which caused both buildings to partially collapse.

>>>PREVIOUS STORY: Heavy equipment starts tearing at burned out Pittsburgh South Side building after massive fire, explosion

What used to be apartments, a barbershop and the welcome center is now an empty lot.

“It’s always good to have closure, but it’s certainly unfortunate that it was an act to burn down the building,” said Mark Bucklaw, president of the South Side Chamber of Commerce.

Ross said he used a torch lighter to set fire to an apartment door.

Surveillance video showed him jogging away from the building with a suitcase.

Justin Lutheran, owner of J’s Master Barbershop, lost his business in the blaze.

“It’s very unfortunate that this happened, and hopefully this kid gets the help he needs, and nobody has to suffer the way the people in our building have been suffering,” said Lutheran.

His business has relocated on Carson Street and is expected to open by the summer.

Ross remains in the Allegheny County Jail. He faces more than a dozen charges in connection with the Feb. 8 fire.