BREAKING: Arson arrest made in North Broad Street Fire from Tuesday night, ‘Tragedy was avoided’


A look at the scene of the North Broad fire on Wednesday. John Anderson photo.


Fire investigators told the Wellsville Sun the fire at 46 North Broad Street early Tuesday was suspicious.

On Wednesday night, an arson arrest was made.

Wellsville Village Police charged Jessica Morrison, 32, of Wellsville with second-degree arson (Class B felony), first-degree felony reckless endangerment and second-degree felony criminal mischief.

She was arraigned before Wellsville Village Justice Bradley Thompson and sent to the Allegany County Jail without bail. She will appear in court again on June 6.

Police said, “Wellsville Police would like to thank the Wellsville Volunteer Fire Department, Wellsville Volunteer Ambulance Corp, Allegany County Fire Investigators, New York State Police, and the Allegany County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance during the investigation. Additionally, we like to thank the Wellsville community. Information was obtained through community involvement which initially led investigators to Morrison becoming a person of interest.”

The multi-unit apartment house on 46 North Broad Street in Wellsville early Tuesday caught fire just after 3 a.m. and firefighters were on the scene until almost noon the next day.

In addition to the four families getting out, two cats got out downstairs and two dogs and eight new-born puppies in a litter got out.

Firefighters said the puppies were so young, some could barely open their eyes.

All companies from the Wellsville Volunteer Fire Department responded along with an engine from Allentown, Willing and Scio was in Wellsville for standby. There were two wellsville ambulances and mutual aid ambulance from Andover at the scene.

Fire officials confirmed four families were able to get out of the and one woman was transported for minor injuries and released.

The woman, who has lived many years in the apartment, was trying to rescue her cats. One cat was found, fire officials said, and they feel the other ran because of fear. There was not fire damage to her apartment, just water.

Not one of the residents had renters insurance, fire officials said.

The pets did not need treatment, firefighters said.

The American Red Cross was notified about half-hour into the fire that assistance was needed for the residents. 

Wellsville Emergency Services Coordinator Chris Martelle could not comment on the investigation or the tenants. But he was able to describe what happened with the firefighting efforts.

“The initial on scene reports was the fire was already through the roof, there was a roof collapse which hampered fire operations getting it out quickly even though there was a quick knock down,” Martelle said. “There was a long process to get the hot spots out between the roof and the second floor. It was a tough one to get completely out, it had a a good head start.

“We had fantastic responses from our emergency services especially that time of the day. Our and the emergency dispatch was outstanding … tragedy was avoided today,” Martelle said.

Village electric shut off the power while the Wellsville Village Police Department cleared the residents as the fire was dispatched and aided in getting the residents out of the apartments as the firefighters were showing up.

“Thank you to all the volunteers, they were great again,” Martelle said. “The dispatch center, emergency services to include the police department, the electric company and gas companies, everyone contributed to a good stop.”

County officials said the Red Cross does not place residents who lost their apartments, but they have increased the amounts given to those displaced on a temporary debit card. The amount is determined by total loss and amount of people who need housing.

County officials said two of the residents upstairs had just moved back to Allegany County from a Southern state after their home was destroyed by fire.

Here is a look at the house after the fire:

Here is a video of the fire and the original story:

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