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2 homes burn in arson-plagued Coatesville, Pa.

It's the 20th deliberately set blaze this year, say authorities in the Philadelphia suburb.

March 15, 2009|Associated Press

COATESVILLE, PA. — The arson-plagued Philadelphia suburb of Coatesville suffered its 20th deliberately set fire of the year Saturday, authorities said.

The 1:30 a.m. blaze badly damaged two homes. John Hageman of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the fire was determined to be arson, but he declined to provide details on how it was set.

The latest blaze came a day after a 19-year-old man was held for trial on arson and aggravated assault charges in connection with blazes between Jan. 2 and Feb. 3, including a fire that seriously damaged 15 row homes.

Law enforcement officials have said that Roger Leon Barlow Jr. took responsibility for nine fires. Authorities last month announced charges against Mark Gilliam, 19, who was accused of setting a fire at a restaurant in nearby Thorndale. In December, three people were arrested in other arsons, including a December blaze that killed an 83-year-old woman.

Coatesville has had at least 46 arsons since February 2008.

At least 18 other arsons have occurred in nearby communities during the same period.

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