2011-09-29 / Front Page

New Grenada Man Burns House, Commits Suicide

By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
STAFF WRITER


This rural Wells Township home suffered severe damage Monday night when the resident, using an accelerant, set the home on fire after telling a suicide hotline worker he would harm anyone who came on the property. As the fire burned, William Ross Valentine, escaped through a window and committed suicide in a nearby wooded area. Firefighters from several area fire companies report extensive damage to the home as well heat damage to nearby homes. 
- PHOTO BY ADAM WATSON This rural Wells Township home suffered severe damage Monday night when the resident, using an accelerant, set the home on fire after telling a suicide hotline worker he would harm anyone who came on the property. As the fire burned, William Ross Valentine, escaped through a window and committed suicide in a nearby wooded area. Firefighters from several area fire companies report extensive damage to the home as well heat damage to nearby homes. - PHOTO BY ADAM WATSON A New Grenada man reportedly suffering from “mental health issues” set his house ablaze Monday night before fleeing into a nearby wooded area and committing suicide.

Pennsylvania State Police investigator Trooper Joseph Horton of the McConnellsburg barracks reported that 50-year-old William Ross Valentire contacted a suicide hotline during the evening of Monday, September 26. In his conversation with hotline workers, Valentine made suicidal statements and threatened to harm anyone who came onto the porch of his home located at 242 Hoover Road.

Mutiple Pennsylvania State Police were dispatched to the Wells Township residence including troopers from the Fulton County troop station and from surrounding counties. The troopers were able to establish phone contact with Valentine, who a short time later poured a type of “accelerant” inside the two-story home and ignited a fire, according to Cpl. William Baker.

Baker added that Valentine eventually exited the home by “jumping out a window” into the backyard.

Armed with a small caliber handgun Valentine proceeded into a wooded area behind his home, where he committed suicide, police concluded.

Fulton County Coroner Berley Souders pronounced Valentine dead at the scene. Cause of death is being listed as self-inflicted gunshot wound.

With the fire progressing and endangering neighboring homes in the small village in northern Fulton County, the Hustontown Volunteer Fire Co. was dispatched at 10:08 p.m. to battle a house fire in progress. Company Fire Chief Darius DeShong told the “News” he was stopped by police at the intersection of Hoover Road when the company arrived approximately 14 minutes later to maintain the safety of company members as well as those investigating the case.

The firefighters remained ready and prepared to knock down the blaze for nearly an hour until the scene was safe and clear for entry. Aiding Hustontown on the scene were firefighters from RW&BT, Six Mile Run, Saxton, Three Springs, Trough Creek and Marklesburg. McConnellsburg re- mained on standby with an engine and ambulance.

DeShong added that due to a downed power line on the roadway that had been attached to the burning structure, companies from Huntingdon County compensated by approaching the home from Groundhog Valley.

DeShong said that only smoke could be seen emanating from the home when fire companies initially arrived. Within 20 minutes, he said, flames began to emerge.

When fire companies were finally given the nod to begin attempts at knocking back flames, not much could be done to save the two-story structure or the adjacent shed, which were deemed a total loss. Firefighters, though, worked to extinguish flames that ignited the corner of a neighboring home belonging to the Summers family.

In addition, the radiating heat caused damage to a neighboring residence owned by Joann Houck, Fire Chief DeShong stated, as well as the Larry Duvall home located directly across the street from the Valentines. Vehicles parked in the surrounding area were also damaged.

“Things went really good considering the circumstances,” the fire chief concluded.

It is unknown at this time if anyone else was inside the Valentine home at the time of the fire.

Fire companies reportedly departed the fire scene just prior to 3 a.m., and heavy rains continued to wash over the area throughout the morning hours Tuesday.

Pa. State Police Fire Marshal Matt Docherty was on scene as of presstime Tuesday to assess the situation and determine both the cause and origin of fire.

Return to top