Someone tried to torch a building in York City's west end early Wednesday morning for the second time in five months, but a quick response by firefighters kept damage to a minimum, York City Fire Chief David Michaels said.

Crews were called to 118 N. Belvidere Ave. at 2:25 a.m. and found a small fire on the first floor of the two-unit apartment building, he said.

"They knocked it down quickly," Michaels said.

Damage, including from smoke and water, was primarily limited to the first-floor walls and flooring, according to the chief. He estimated that damage to be about $5,000.

Ruled arson: The fire has been ruled arson, Michaels said, and was called into 911 by a passer-by who saw smoke coming from it.

"(Construction workers) had been in and out of the building ... so it doesn't appear to have been caused by a squatter," he said.

Investigators believe someone intentionally set the fire, according to Michaels.

Around lunchtime Wednesday, York City police detectives, city fire investigators and a state police fire marshal were still at the scene, investigating.

The chief said he was not yet sure whether the arsonist forced his way into the apartment building.

"We're trying to find out how they got inside," he said.

Repair work: Repair and remodeling work was being done on the building to repair damage caused by a March 20 arson fire that destroyed six properties, including a warehouse at 701-703 W. Philadelphia St., and displaced about a dozen people.


That fire also was ruled arson. The alleged arsonist, Keith Allen Hetrick Jr., remains in York County Prison awaiting trial.

York City Police have said Hetrick set fire to the warehouse, which was owned by a man who had hired Hetrick to do odd jobs.

Michaels said at this point there is nothing to suggest the small arson fire is related to two other recent blazes that happened just blocks away.

"But obviously we still want to talk to people (to rule out any possibility)," he said.

Nearby fires: A three-alarm blaze Saturday caused about $200,000 in damage to four row homes in the 100 block of Manchester Street, and displaced eight people, Michaels has said. That fire started on a "makeshift patio" outside 120 Manchester St., he said.

The cause of that blaze remains undetermined and is under active investigation, according to Michaels.

And on Friday, fire damaged 119 N. West St. and spread to the adjacent 115 N. West St.

The two-alarm blaze displaced a family of three and has been ruled arson, Michaels has said. He estimated damage to both homes at $125,000.

Anyone with information on the three recent fires is asked to call city detectives at (717) 849-2204. Or call the city's anonymous crime tip line, (717) 849-2204. Or anonymously text a tip to YORKTIPS at 847411.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at