PITMAN, Pa. - A state police fire marshal said yesterday that a Schuylkill County blaze that killed 23 dogs was accidental.

Shortly after Tuesday's fire at a beagle-breeding kennel in Eldred Township, an assistant fire chief said it was suspicious. But Fire Marshal John Burns ruled yesterday that it was an accident and estimated damage at more than $35,000. Two passersby saw the fire and stopped to help, saving nine dogs' lives. Two other dogs had been let out the night before and were not hurt.

- AP