Arson victims demand action
Residents of Coatesville, Pa., have become the victims of a string of arson-related fires that have increased in number in the past month. CNN reports that in 2008 15 arson fires were started with 14 following this month.
"Everyone's just kind of alert and on edge right now," said resident Steve Miller. Dozens of angry residents arrived at a City Hall meeting Monday to demand action by the city to address the problem.
City Manager Harry Walker attempted to calm the crowd down by encouraging them to join a neighborhood watch program. Police Chief William Matthews echoed Walker's words. ""It's vitally important that everyone participate," he said.
The New York Times reports that although there was an increase in police patrols and investigative help from county, state and federal agencies, the fires still occurred. CNN reports that along with state and federal officials, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined the investigation.
The New York Times also reports that the American Red Cross has been assisting 14 families who were victims of the fires.
Three people were arrested in 2008 for admitted arson-related activity but the fires only increased while they were in custody. Walker did not rule out the possibility that the fires could be gang related due to the organization and manpower needed to commit the crimes.