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High-Rise Dorm Construction Continues At Temple U. Despite Arson Fires

By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Construction continues Wednesday on a 27-story student housing high-rise dormitory at Temple University’s main campus, despite a series of arson fires earlier this week.

Officials say five small fires were intentionally set on floors inside what will be the residential tower of Morgan Hall, at Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue in North Philadelphia.

“We have a citywide arson task force that investigates significant fires, which consists of ATF (the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms), the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Philadelphia Fire Department,” says ATF spokesman and special agent Steven Bartholomew.

“Beginning on Monday,” Bartholomew tells KYW Newsradio, “there was a series of three fires. And then on Tuesday, two additional fires during the daytime hours. Out of those five fires, ATF — along with Temple police and Philadelphia police — have determined that those fires were arson.”

An estimated $100,000 in damage was sustained, according to Ray Betzner of Temple University, who adds that construction is still on schedule.

“There has been no disruption to the progress on the building,” he said Wednesday. “We will have the building open and available to students when the new school year starts in the fall.”

Anyone with information on the arson fires is being asked to contact the ATF hotline at 1-888-ATF FIRE.

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