Coatesville arson cleanup

February 4, 2009 4:14:25 PM PST
The city of Coatesville is reacting to yet another arson Tuesday night, and now, is taking help wherever it can get it and that might be in Harrisburg.

The latest blaze left its mark on Mary Beth Chodkiewicz neat frame home. Coatesville's latest arson was set between 9:15 and 9:30 Tuesday night.

"It was pretty bad experience to go through. You just don't think it's going to happen to you, you know. We took all kinds of precautions."

Those precautions included porch lights and spotlights switched on and debris swept away. The fire started in or near a plastic box that held gardening materials.

"We looked all at all the materials in the backyard. For right now not to exactly say what the cause or origin of that fire was only to say that it was arson," said John Hageman from the ATF.

Witnesses said investigators focused on footprints left in the fresh snow. Like many in Coatesville, neighbor George Wilson said he does not sleep well anymore.

"In fact I've only nearly resorted to sleeping with a weapon near me, nearby."

The current arson spree has hit Coatesville in many ways, among them skyrocketing overtime. In a surprise move Wednesday Governor Ed Rendell proposed sending $500-thousand in emergency aid for the beleaguered city.

Coatesville also got help Wednesday from a small army of suburban township workers. A citywide cleanup spearheaded by the manager of nearby West Bradford.

"We're moving as much combustible material out of the city as we possibly can," said Jack Hines.

That move is a step to deprive arsonists of ready fuel but the ultimate goal remains to find whomever it is that's setting the fires.

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