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Woman Charged with Arson in York Street Fire

Photo by Alan Olson – A home at 315 S. York Street was the site of a fire last week, where firefighters rescued two cats from an alleged arson.

WHEELING – A Bellaire woman faces felony charges after allegedly starting a fire last week at a residence on Wheeling Island.

At around 2:45 p.m. on Jan. 3, police and firefighters responded to a 911 call from an occupant, saying that the property at 315 South York St. was on fire. Responders say they saw flames in the front room and the porch, which were quickly extinguished. Two cats were rescued from inside the building and no other injuries were reported.

According to police reports, a woman was interviewed at the scene of the fire who was allegedly inside the house. The woman, Linda Kay McLaughlin, 63, of 4258 ½ Noble Street, Bellaire, denied ever having been inside the house.

A neighbor’s security camera allegedly showed McLaughlin going inside the house for about an hour before smoke started pouring out of the door. She is then seen exiting the house, having been the only person seen going in or out before the smoke was visible.

McLaughlin allegedly then changed her story, telling investigators that she had gone into the house to check on her cat, then she heard a hissing sound and saw the fire. After being confronted about the video, McLaughlin allegedly changed her story again, telling investigators that she could have fallen asleep while smoking. When she awoke, she allegedly said she saw the fire, and tried and failed to extinguish it with her beer before exiting the house, apparently without the cats.

McLaughlin is charged with felony arson and lodged in lieu of $25,000 bond at the Northern Regional Jail. Her preliminary hearing is today before magistrate Joe Roxby.

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