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Cops: Truck driver left scene of North Belle Vernon house fire caused by downed utility pole

December 3, 2018

A truck driver was jailed Wednesday after North Belle Vernon police allege he knocked a utility pole into a house, catching it on fire, before leaving the scene.

Nathanael William Smyth, 27, of San Angelo, Texas, was arrested at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday at the Donegal exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, according to a criminal complaint. Police said there was damage to the passenger side of his tractor-trailer and debris lodged in the trailer from the pole.

Firefighters and police were called at 4:30 p.m. to a home at the intersection of Hill and Arch streets in the residential neighborhood for a reported attic fire and hit and run. Police said in court papers the utility pole was leaning over and there were tire tracks through the yard.

A witness described the tractor-trailer as having a red cab with a white refrigerated trailer with the name Trans AM on the side. Police contacted the trucking company and the driver stopped on the eastbound Pennsylvania Turnpike about 4 miles from the Somerset exit. State police met up with Smyth and took him to the Donegal exit where he was arrested by North Belle Vernon police.

Smyth told police he got lost and didn’t think he hit anything, according to the complaint. He was being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on $100,000 bond on charges of causing catastrophe, reckless endangerment and accidents involving damage.

A man inside the home was able to escape uninjured, police said. The home was damaged.

Smyth did not have an attorney listed in online court records. A Nov. 19 preliminary hearing is set. Attempts to reach the trucking company were unsuccessful.

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