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Homestead fire deliberately set, investigators say; damage estimated at more than $2 million

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PITTSBURGH — Authorities in western Pennsylvania say they have confirmed that a fire that ravaged buildings in the main business district of the poor Pittsburgh suburb of Homestead was deliberately set.

Allegheny County officials said Saturday evening that the fire marshal's office determined that the fire was incendiary in nature and "all accidental and natural causes have been eliminated."

Officials said damage was estimated at "in excess of $2 million." The fire destroyed three buildings and heavily damaged two others.

Twenty-seven-year-old Edward McDonald was charged earlier with more than a dozen counts of arson as well as risking a catastrophe. Investigators said he told them he acted after hearing "voices in his head."

A Homestead organization, ANEW Community Institute, announced plans for a Jan. 31 fundraiser to help those affected.

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