Asst. Fire chief arrested in Coatesville arsons

BREAKING NEWS: Career chief arrested for additional arsons. As I noted in my post about a month ago, all indications were that a firefighter was responsible for setting some of the arson fires in Coatesville, PA, Chester County. My biggest fear because a reality today. The following report is resposted with permission of WPVI-TV, Philadelphia.

COATESVILLE, Pa. - March 23, 2009 (WPVI) -- The Chester County, PA Arson Task Force announced late Monday that the assistant fire chief of the Coatesville Fire Department has been arrested in the arson spree plaguing Coatesville and surrounding communities.

Police say they've arrested Robert Tracey, 37, of the 600 block of Charles Street in Coatesville.
Tracey is career assistant fire chief for the Coatesville Fire Department, which claims to be a combination department. However, most volunteers are unable to reach the city's two stations, as two-person crews respond despite the volunteer response.

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.

The home on Madison Street belonged to Felicia Taylor. She told Action News that her lawn furniture was set on fire when an arsonist struck. She and her fiance were inside her home when a neighbor came banging on the door saying something was burning behind the house.

"The swing was right up against the house out back. So we pulled it away from the house and out to the yard so it wouldn't burn the house," Buddy Miller said.

"I ran down in the basement, turned the water on, and got the hose and extinguished it out," Felicia Taylor said.

A second fire on the 100 block of Hope Street occurred in a trash can between two homes, two blocks away on Hope street. Residents of the homes report spotting the arsonist.

One woman described what her fiance saw: "He saw a young man at the trash can with a lighter you would light a grill with, and the sensor light didn't even seem to phase him."

"The arsonist is bold because there's a lot of lights back there. I have two sets of motion lights back there and I have dawn to duskers in front," Paul Evans, the victim's landlord, said.

Both fires were quickly extinguished. Nobody was hurt in either fire.
Tracey was appointed Assistant Chief, from Engine Captain, during the rash of arsons in January and February. In his new position, Tracey worked in operations as a safety officer and water supply officer.

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.

Visit WPVI Philadelphia for updates.


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Comment by Art "ChiefReason" Goodrich on March 26, 2009 at 7:59am
I hate to say it, but I suspected a firefighter after the arrests, but the fires continued. That's when I thought a firefighter might be involved.
Maybe he thought with more fires, he'd be promoted to CHIEF!
Sick, twisted POS if he is guilty.
Comment by Bull on March 24, 2009 at 10:34am
what a punk
Comment by Dennis Steele on March 24, 2009 at 8:51am
Very sad state affairs going on, its dissturbing to think that a fellow brother would do such an act.
Comment by rfdjumper on March 23, 2009 at 9:45pm
Oh WTF! I am deeply disturbed by this latest development in the Coatesville arson cases.

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