Coatesville firefighters react to recent arrest

March 24, 2009 8:44:52 PM PDT
Suspect's wife and fellow firefighters react to Robert Tracey's arrest"He is telling me he didn't do it, he said he was in the area but it wasn't him. I'm not going to say what he was doing in the area."

Tracy March-Tracey says while she worked late Friday night her husband, Robert Tracey, left their young children home alone to go out in the night. She won't say why saying it's just too embarrassing.

But authorities claim when Robert Tracey, a 3rd generation firefighter, went into the night he set two fires.

"Witnesses came forward providing detailed information identifying Mr. Tracey as the individual responsible for setting those fires," said Thomas Ost-Prisco, assistant district attorney.

At the Double D Diner the headlines were hard to digest. This arrest was not some young thrill seeker, but a family man who is paid to fight fires.

"I could not believe it; it was astonishing to believe that you know first he was a volunteer and then they had moved him up and just to think that he would do something like this," sais Ashley Chicosky.

"He's got 5 children you know what are they gonna do," wondered Harold Root.

The Coatesville fire chief fears his department's reputation will suffer.

"With news of this magnitude yes it's going to hurt. I would be lying if I said it didn't," said Chief Kevin Johnson.

Robert Tracey's wife says she is rattled by the accusations; her husband was hired just last month.

"It was a very big deal for him to finally, being a volunteer for so many years and he loved what he did to finally get paid for what he was doing was a very big deal to him."

Robert Tracey remains in jail Tuesday night his bail is set at $2-million.

The criminal complaint lists nine charges against Tracey in relation to the two arsons of March 20, 2009 at 669 Madison Street, Coatesville, Pa., and 107 Hope Street, Coatesville, Pa.

There have been nearly 50 arsons in Coatesville since February of last year, and more than 20 have been set just this year. Two suspects, Roger Barlow and Mark Gilliam, have been charged in 10 of them.

State Police say Barlow, of Downingtown, Pa., admitted guilt to nine of the fires, including the devastating Fleetwood Street fire on January 24 and a fire on Chester Avenue on February 3.

Gilliam, of West Chester, Pa., was arrested on a federal charge for the Jan. 25, 2009, attempted arson of the Happy Days Family Bistro in Thorndale, Pa.

Coverage Archive of Coatesville files:
March 21, 2009 - Overnight fires declared arson
March 21, 2009 - 2 fires quickly extenguished in Coatesville
March 15, 2009 - Latest arson reignites fear in Coatesville
March 13, 2009 - Coatesville arson suspect faces trial
March 12, 2009 - Coatesville on edge despite arrests
February 19, 2009 Coatesville officials discuss arson costs
February 11, 2009 - Helping Coatesville kids cope with fires
February 9, 2009 - Sen. Casey visits Coatesville arson site
February 4, 2009 - Coatesville arson cleanup
February 3, 2009 - Another fire breaks out a home in Coatesville
February 2, 2009 - Reward for Coatesville arsons hiked
January 27, 2009 - One of the men behind the Coatesville fires
December 9, 2009 Suspect in deadly arson arrested
December 8, 2008 - Woman hurt in Coatesville arson dies

SLIDES: Coatesville fires and aftermath
SLIDES: Coatesville 7-alarm blaze

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