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Salvation Army fire ruled arson

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Published August 14. 2019 12:00PM


A fire that damaged the Salvation Army building in Tamaqua last May has been ruled an arson.

State police fire marshal Trooper Joseph Hall said the fire at the facility, located at 105 W. Broad St., which occurred on May 12 at 9:53 a.m., had two origins in a rear storeroom.

Hall said video surveillance shows nobody entered or left the building just prior to the fire.

The Tamaqua Fire Department responded and extinguished the blaze. The fire department requested the assistance of state police in determining the cause of the fire.

Hall said Tamaqua police Cpl. Thomas Rodgers, criminal investigator, is conducting the investigation with his assistance.

Anyone with information concerning the fire is asked to call either Rodgers or Hall.

The fire destroyed clothing and food at the building.

“I was in the chapel and all of a sudden my phone rings, and it’s my daughter saying, Mom, there’s all kind of smoke coming up here,” said then Major Sharon Whispell.

Almost a year ago to the day, there was a fire above the Salvation Army in one of the apartments.

Whispell, 53, was suspended earlier this summer and charged last week with theft by deception/false impression, theft by unlawful taking-movable property, receiving stolen property, theft by failure to make required dispensation of funds and tampering of records.

The Salvation Army has found discrepancies in paperwork totaling $116,913.33, dating back to 2015.


Is this article implying that that arson may have been an inside job? No one seen entering or leaving, and this unrelated (?) part about the Major being suspended for theft...

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