$10k reward posted after Center City apartment building targeted by arsonist

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Watch the report from Bob Brooks on Action News at 5 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2017. (WPVI)

A $10,000 reward has been posted in the search for the person responsible for setting a handful of fires inside a luxury apartment building in Center City.

This is all happening at the Sterling Apartments near the corner of 18th Street and JFK Boulevard.

The most recent fire was started around midnight Friday. Firefighters, firetrucks, EMS and investigators surrounded the apartment building.

"About midnight the fire alarms went off and then, you can't take the elevators, so we have to take 18 flights down, and then 18 flights back up," said resident Joseph Tighe.

Officials say this is the seventh blaze set inside the luxury apartment building in just a few weeks, and now several neighbors say they're willing to move in seeking safety.

"Let us out of our leases and go somewhere safer or start doing something about this," said Tighe.

"We're kind of in a tough spot staying here," said Marisa Rowan.

At a news conference Friday afternoon the ATF, Philadelphia Fire Department and Fire Marshals say they believe they're getting close to the arsonist.

"It's an individual who has an axe to grind. We believe it is somebody from within that building," said ATF Special Agent Sam Rabadi.

But residents say they're running out of patience.

"The last two to three weeks it's happening over and over again, and late at night too," said Tighe.

As you can imagine, the residents' worst fear now is if one of these fires spreads out of control and they're trapped near the top floor.

Investigators say, so far the fires have been small in nature and don't believe the suspect is trying to burn the building down. But as Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel says, every fire starts small.

"This is very dangerous. All fires are dangerous - even small fires are dangerous," said Commissioner Thiel.

Law enforcement also says extra security measures have been implemented to ensure safety.

As for a motive, authorities believe the arsonist may have more of an issue with someone in the building or the management company.

Again, there is a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. If you have any information, investigators want to hear from you.
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arson investigationbuilding firephiladelphia newsCenter City Philadelphia
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