Reward for Coatesville arsons hiked

February 3, 2009 8:48:45 AM PST
Officials are offering more money and hoping for an arrest in the string of arsons that have plagued Coatesville, Pa.

The Chester County Arson Task Force increased the reward to $20,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction in the case.

A task force tip line has been established: (484) 356-6109.

In the wake of the arson spree that has plauged the community, the fire department in Coatesville stepped-up its efforts to get smoke detectors into homes. They gave away about 300 in the past few months, but last week ran out.

They were told by suppliers it would be two to three weeks before additional detectors would arrive.

So, on Monday, the Philadelphia Fire Department delivered 500 smoke detectors. The delivery was part of Operation 6abc Save a Life program in conjunction with Kidde, the maker of the detectors.

"Every year, Channel 6 runs the 'Operation Save a Life" in Philadelphia where we bring in a hundred different fire departments and share smoke alarms with them and have a day of fellowship. These smoke alarms are from that program," said Lt. Mike Grant of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

CLICK HERE for life-saving tips from Operation 6abc Save a Life.

"This is extremely important for our community, and I want to give a big 'Thank you' and 'Shout out' to Channel 6 for this, because this is much needed, especially with all that's going on and there are homes without smoke detectors," said Coatesville City Spokeswoman Kristen Geiger.

Coatesville firefighters began installing the detectors immediately. The shipment comes in the wake of four additional arsons Saturday morning in Chester County at locations just outside the Coatesville City limits. It's not clear if those fires are linked to the more than a dozen arsons that happened in Coatesville in the month of January.

"I'm not sure if it's copycats, the same individuals, or someone looking to make a name for themselves, but it's very disheartening not only for the residents of Coatesville but for the surrounding areas now," said Chief Kevin Johnson of the Coatesville Fire Department.

Firefighters acknowledge that the smoke detectors are not going to stop the arsonists, but they may help the people of Coatesville stay safe.

The city has also ordered 1,000 motion-detector porch lights and started giving those away on Monday. The goal is to illuminate dark corners where the intentionally-set fires usually start.

"This is going to my in-laws house, who live up on Pennsylvania Avenue," said Coatesville resident William Hall who just picked up a porch light. "It's dark in their back yard, they're an elderly couple, we're real scared for them. It's a bad situation."

Reward Fund

A reward fund has been set up to help catch those responsible for the fires. Contributions can be sent to:

Citadel Federal Credit Union
Coatesville Reward Fund
Attn: Office Manager
135 Modena Road
Coatesville, PA 19320

Another fund has been set up to help the people affected by the fires. Donations can be sent to:

Citadel Federal Credit Union
Coatesville Family Fund
Attn: Office Manager
135 Modena Road
Coatesville, PA 19320

Phone Numbers:

Coatesville Police Hotline: (610) 636-0514

Citizen's Crime Commission: 215-546-TIPS

Crimestoppers: 1-800-4-PA-TIPS.

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