Braddock, PA House Fire, July 1931

Couple, Boarder Accused Of Arson as Home Burns

Tipped Off Beforehand to Alleged Incendiary Fire, Marshal Pfarr Causes Arrests, Claims Three Members of Incendiary Gang.

A man, his wife and a boarder at their home in Braddock are in jail and will be given hearings this afternoon on charges of arson with intent to defraud. Fire Marshal Thomas L. Pfarr stated last night, in connection with the fire in the home of Simon Lefkowitz, 400 Talbot avenue, Braddock, early Saturday.

The prisoners are Lefkowitz, his wife, Mrs. Katie Lefkowitz and Andy Peplessky, a boarder. Pfarr declared that the three are connected with an arson ring in the Monogahelia valley responsible for several recent mysterious fires.

The arrests came through a tip received by Pfarr on Friday, he disclosed last night. The tipster, however, supplied the wrong address but a few a minutes before the fire started, Pfarr’s informant delivered the proper address to him.

Unable to reach the scene in time, Pfarr called Braddock police and patrolman Ray Queen rushed to the Lefkowitz home. At the same time firemen were notified.

When Queen reached the house, flames were seen coming from the second floor, Queen however, dashed into the building, followed by firemen and within a few moments the fire had been extinguished. The flames did not reach a cache of 35 gallons of high test gasoline which was found in the house, nor gasoline-soaked cloths, which according to Pfarr were draped about the walls.

No one was in the house, but at daybreak Mrs. Lefkowitz and Peplessky returned. Both were ordered arrested by Pfarr. An hour later Lefkowitz appeared and was arrested.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, PA Jul 20, 1931