Cops Check 4 More Fires in Arson-Plagued Pennsylvania Area

February 2, 2009

Authorities said four arson fires reported Saturday “share a commonality” with other intentionally set blazes that have plagued this area outside Philadelphia, but they would not say if they were connected.

The four house fires were reported early Saturday near Coatesville, which has been hit with more than 30 suspicious fires over the past year. The number includes at least 17 that have occurred since Jan. 1. Nearly all have been started on porches.

No injuries were reported in Saturday’s fires. Authorities said only one house had significant damage.

Two of the blazes Saturday were set on porches of houses on the same street in Valley Township, and another porch fire was set in Modena. A fourth was started at a house in nearby Sadsbury Township.

“These fires share a commonality with the fires already under investigation, but at this point we will not say that they are directly linked to the arsonist or arsonists in Coatesville,” said John Hageman, spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

He said that since the latest fires were outside the city limits, investigators would be looking at previous fires in the surrounding communities that may have been considered isolated incidents.

A blaze last weekend burned through 15 row houses in Coatesville, displacing dozens of people and prompting local officials to declare a state of emergency in the city about 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Philadelphia.

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