Police investigating death, arson in West Hempfield Township

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WEST HEMPFIELD TWP, Pa. - UPDATE: Police say they have not been able to contact family. The 46-year-old was a truck driver who has been laid-off for two years. He was renting the home and behind on rent. He was scheduled to be evicted this, Wednesday, afternoon.

In a release, West Hempfield Township Police say they are investigating a death and an arson that occurred at 3056 Todd Ln.  Emergency crews were called to the home shortly after 3:00 am for a  fire.  Officers arrived on the scene in less than a minute and reported that the garage was completely engulfed in flames and flames were spreading.  Multiple explosions were reported to have come from the garage and a portion of a propane tank was found about a block away from the scene. Burnt cans of spray paint were scattered throughout the neighborhood.

As the fire companies battled the fire, the body of a 46-year-old male was found in an upstairs bedroom with a single gunshot wound.  The individual was identified as the only resident of the home.  Police are not releasing his name until next of kin are notified. An autopsy to determine his cause of death is scheduled for Friday.

”It’s going to be tough on the neighbors knowing, you know, they knew the gentleman inside and they talked with him," said  Chief Mark Pugliese from West Hempfield Township Police.

State Police fire marshals are assisting in the investigation and have classified the fire as arson.  At this point in the investigation, there is no evidence anyone aside from the property owner was involved in the fire being set.  Additionally, there is no evidence of foul play or indication that a crime was committed.

Officers removed numerous firearms and items of personal value for safe keeping until they can be turned over to a relative.  Officers are verifying ownership of the firearms, which are believed to be legally-owned. Neighbors told police the deceased built and repaired firearms.

Investigation is continuing and anyone with information is asked to contact the West Hempfield Twp Police Department at 285-5191 or 1-800-957-2677.