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Local fireman gives his take on the Coatesville, PA arsons

In Uncategorized on February 5, 2009 at 5:48 pm

page2mapCitizens of Coatesville, Pa, a Philadelphia suburb in Chester County, have been living in fear for the past few months. The fear is that their homes could be suddenly burned down in the middle of the night.

Since the end of 2008 the town of Coatesville has had a severe problem with arson. There have been more than 30 fires in the past year, leaving numerous people homeless. The year of 2009 has already experienced 14 suspected arsons.

Two of the most recent fires were set on Thursday, January 22 and late on Saturday, January 24.

Thursday, a fire was set on the 1100 block of Olive Street. Just a few minutes later, trash cans were reportedly set on fire on Hope Avenue. The trashcan fire was reported by the boyfriend of a homeowner who described a 5”2′ white male suspect around 16 years of age.

The Saturday fire occurred on the 300 block of Fleetwood Street. It began at 11:31pm and quickly spread to 15 row homes, becoming a seven alarm fire. It took 150 firefighters almost three hours to extinguish the flames. The blaze was finally under control at 2:07am on Sunday morning.

Saturday night’s fire was so intense that it was no match for Coatesville’s Fire Department. They were forced to call upon several other companies for assistance, including our own local Edge Hill Fire Department.

The Fleetwood Street fire proved devastating, leaving 11 families homeless. 32 adults and 18 children were forced to find alternative housing.

These people were lucky to escape with their lives, says former Chief of the Roslyn Fire Department Jeffrey Glynn. “If the fire had started any later there probably would have been fatalities. Luckily, most people were awake at the time and were able to be alerted to safety,” says Glynn.

Red Cross funded hotel rooms for those displaced by the fire until Tuesday night at which point Chester County took over financial responsibility. County officials were hopeful to find more permanent housing for these families by Thursday. Food is being provided by donations made to Coatesville Memorial Community Center and the Salvation Army.

These reoccurring arsons have left the town of Coatesville in a state of alarm. Chester County has declared a county-wide disaster emergency. This declaration is designed to help the county respond faster in the case of any future fires.

An arrest was made last December in the case of the Coatesville arsons but it has not stopped this fire phenomenon. State and federal agents have since gotten involved in the ongoing investigation.

Police patrol has increased throughout the town and firefighters have been going door-to-door, offering free smoke detectors and batteries. The town is urging citizens to keep their porch lights on at night and remove any flammable objects from their porches.
“I can only hope that they determine who is setting these fires. It is a terrible tragedy,” says Glynn.

Chester County has recently added $5,000 to a reward fund that they set up for anyone with information regarding the fires in Coatesville. Anyone that witnesses suspicious activity is urged to call 610-636-0514.

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