2 Fayette County blaze locations under dispute
The causes of two fires that occurred 23 minutes apart at a barn and lumber yard in Fayette County on Sunday remain under investigation while court records show the owners are involved in a family feud involving the properties.
The first fire broke out at 1:42 a.m. at a barn at 359 Imel Road in Saltlick Township, said Trooper Russell Freed, an assistant deputy fire marshal with state police at Uniontown. The second was called in at 2:05 a.m. at Nicholson’s lumber yard on Indian Creek Valley Road in nearby Springfield Township.
No one was hurt in either blaze. Freed yesterday said the causes of both fires remain under investigation.
Civil court records unrelated to the fires indicate the barn is on property owned by Kenneth Nicholson Jr. The records indicate Nicholson and his father, Kenneth Nicholson Sr., of 111 Hawkins Hollow Road, Normalville, are battling over an alleged $700,000 debt and pieces of farming equipment.
In August, Nicholson Sr., who owns the lumber yard property, filed two civil lawsuits against his son.
In the first, the father is seeking to recover $700,000 from Nicholson Jr., who according to court records had operated a sawmill business on his father’s property. According to the filing, Nicholson Jr. borrowed the money in March 2001. Terms of the agreement called for Nicholson Jr. to make full or partial payment on the loan to his father “at any time for any reason,” according to the lawsuit.
In court papers filed by his attorney, Nicholson Jr. denies the allegations. He indicates his father “has not demanded payment in writing in accordance” with the agreement. In addition, Nicholson Jr. indicates he entered into the $700,000 agreement with the stipulation his father was retiring and would transfer his property to him.
In addition, Nicholson Jr. indicates in a counterclaim that his father was supposed to have retired from the sawmill business in 2001, but instead used the business’ line of credit through 2007 to spend “exorbitant amounts of money.” Nicholson Jr. had to repay those loans, according to the counterclaim.
In the second lawsuit, Nicholson Sr. alleges his son is in possession of $107,500 worth of his equipment and livestock. Nicholson Sr. alleged the horses and equipment are at his son’s residence on Imel Road.
In court papers, Nicholson Jr. acknowledged that his father owns some of the disputed equipment and one of the horses.
In a counterclaim, he alleges his father is in wrongful possession of livestock and equipment that he owns. In addition, Nicholson Jr. alleges his father owes him $419,400 in horse-boarding fees. According to the court papers, Nicholson Jr. boarded up to 30 of his father’s horses at a time on his Imel Road property between 2006 and 2010.
In a third lawsuit filed in October, Nicholson Jr. wanted a judge to order his father to allow him onto the sawmill property. According to the filing, Nicholson Jr. had been operating the sawmill on his father’s property for a number of years until his father locked him out.
In addition, Nicholson Jr. alleged his father had removed equipment from the sawmill site, as well as logs that Nicholson Jr. had stored there and steel and other materials.
On Oct. 27, Judge Steve Leskinen issued an order prohibiting Nicholson Sr. from selling the sawmill property or removing equipment from the site.
Nicholson Jr. and his attorney, Rich Bower of Connellsville, declined comment. Nicholson Sr. and his attorney, David Reiss of Connellsville, did not return phone calls seeking comment.