Firefighter Nation News -- The Coatesville arson case took a more dramatic turn Monday when a veteran fire officer was charged in connections with two recent fires. (New: Read Fire Department Statement)

There were no injuries or significant property damage in two fires Friday night. The fires involved involved trash and furniture outside of a structure.

Robert Tracey, 37, was a member of the Coatesville Fire Department. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported he was a former captain of Coatesville's West End Fire Company, recently hired by the city as a part-time firefighter, a move that forced him to give up his volunteer rank. WFMZ said he was formerly an Assistant Chief.

The Associated Press reported that one of the fires in December displaced Tracy's mother from her home.

Media outlets reported that he was the 2004 Officer of the Year. Tracey was held in lieu of $2 million bail, charged with nine counts stemming from the two fires..

At least six people have been arrested in connection with nearly 70 fires in the area since the start of 2008.

Update -- Associated Press Report

Associated Press Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A firefighter whose mother was displaced by a December arson in a struggling steel town beset by them was charged Monday with lighting two small trash fires there last week.

The fact Robert Tracey Jr. is a firefighter in Coatesville, a town of 11,000 residents just west of Philadelphia, made the charges particularly difficult for his colleagues, who've been strained by dozens of arsons since the beginning of last year, prosecutors said.

"It's especially disturbing for them that one of their own could be responsible for incidents like this," Chester County District Attorney Joseph Carroll told reporters from his office in West Chester.

Tracey, 37, was identified by witnesses who saw him running from the scene of Friday's fires, which were set a few blocks apart and didn't cause any injuries or significant damage, Carroll said. He was jailed in lieu of $2 million bail.

Attorney S. Lee Ruslander II, who represented Tracey in a previous unrelated case, declined to comment when reached by telephone Monday night.

Tracey is the sixth person arrested in connection with arsons in Coatesville and the surrounding area. He's not charged in any of the other fires, one of which killed a woman, but Carroll said the investigation was continuing.

"I would love to say that this is the end, but it's not," Carroll said. "There are a number of unsolved arsons that likely cannot be tied to the suspects who have already been arrested."

The Friday blazes bring to 22 the number of arsons in the city this year. They came a week after a fire badly damaged two homes.

There have been at least 48 arsons in Coatesville since February 2008 and at least 18 others in nearby communities.

A teenager accused of setting nine of the fires led investigators to several of the scenes and confessed in a police interview, law enforcement officials testified this month.

Roger Leon Barlow Jr., 19, was held for trial after a preliminary hearing on arson and aggravated assault charges in connection with blazes that broke out in Coatesville between Jan. 2 and Feb. 3. The arsons included a massive fire that severely damaged 15 row houses. Damage in that fire alone is estimated at $1.2 million.

A trial date has not been set.

On cross-examination of several witnesses, defense attorney Terrence J. Marlowe pointed out that no one had seen his client set the fires and that no physical evidence pointing to him had been found.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Coatesville/West End Fire Company Official Release on Arrest

By Assistant Chief Robert Pacana - March 23, 2009

For Immediate Release -- On the evening of Monday, March 23, 2009, the officers of the West End Fire Company No. 3 were informed that one of its members, Robert Tracey Jr., had been arrested and charged with 2 counts of arson.

Mr. Tracey had been involved with the Company for nearly 25 years and has held several positions within the Company. Most recently, Mr. Tracey held the position of Assistant Fire Chief, but resigned from that position in February of this year to become a career firefighter with the City of Coatesville Fire Department.

No words are sufficient at conveying the anger, frustration and disappointment that the officers and members of the West End Fire Company feel regarding these allegations. Should Mr. Tracey be found guilty of these charges in a court of law, he will have betrayed not only the trust of Company, but also the sacred trust of the community that he served.

These allegations that a firefighter may have been involved in one or more of the recent arsons that have plagued the City of Coatesville should not overshadow the hard work and dedication of the countless men and woman who risk their lives on a regular basis to ensure the safety of the community.

The West End Fire Company is committed to work collaboratively with law enforcement regarding this ongoing investigation. Mr. Tracey has been suspended from the Company indefinitely pending the outcome of the case.

The leadership of the West End Fire Company will provide more information as it becomes available.

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The story has been updated with new information.
If this turns out to be true, burn his ass
What was he thinking? Oh, thats right he was not! It is just stupid to neadlessly put fire fighter lives at risk, not mention by standers!
Blah, This is a kick in the ass for myself.. Ive been to many of the coatsville fires as we assist quite often.. Oh and was man power needed for these and many nights from 8pm-6am on these jobs.. There exhausting.
What's troubling is that his mother's house was set 2 days before Christmas last year. This is going to be a big black mark for the fire service.
Be safe
WTF. is the fire service coming to when is it going to stop with these guys
A disgrace as well as an outrage. This what gives the fire departments a bad social wrap as well as bad publicity. We are here to provide a community service; we serve and protect...NOT get our jollies by seeing "The Animal" destroy property especially that of our loved ones. I hope our failing justice system does its job and provides the maximum sentencing possible and justice gets served.

This is merely MY OPINION.

My opinions do not have any reflection of any organizations with which I am affiliated. They are strictly mine, and mine alone!!!!!!!
I don't think any comment is necessary except to say to the West End Fire company. Stand tall my brothers your work is still needed.
You know: I have always held in the back of my mind that it just might be "firefighters" or former firefghters involved.
The fact that they continued after arrests were made kinda sealed the deal for me.
My heart goes out to the people of Coatesville.
Right now; how much trust is there in their fire department?
Nothing worse than a firefighter starting fires roast em if its true.
no comment
I feel bad for the rest of the Coatsville FD that now have to live with this hanging over their heads. All I an say to these guys is try and stay positive... you're all still needed and the bad guy is gone.

At least firefighters in PA are now required to sign off on an arson criminal backgroud check. I don't think this will totaly cure the problem but at least it's a step in the right direction.

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