By Elizabeth Hur
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Officials have announced a reward of up to $15,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person, or people, responsible for the arsons at the tower building at Temple University.
Five fires in two days, causing about $100,000 in damages, have investigators from Philadelphia police, fire marshals and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives converging at the construction site at Broad and Cecil B. Moore streets.
Steven Bartholomew, ATF Special Agent, explained, “Out of those five fires, it was determined that all five are considered arson at this time.”
An arson task force is now working to gather evidence from Temple’s Morgan Hall construction site where authorities say three fires were intentionally set on Monday and two more on Tuesday.
“The fires occurred (Monday) between approximately 8:30 a.m. and Noon time. (Tuesday), the fires occurred between mid-morning and late afternoon,” Bartholomew went onto say, “The fires are smaller in nature and they occurred on separate floors. So it involved a total of five floors for each of the five fires.”
According to sources, investigators were on scene Tuesday conducting interviews and following up on the fires from Monday when someone, somehow set two more fires inside the building. Sources say ATF agents and firefighters jumped into action and extinguished the fires quickly but not before three workers suffered minor injuries.
Bartholomew explained, “Which were related to smoke inhalation with construction employees. ATF takes it very seriously. That’s why we are here to investigate the cause and origin of these fires and like I said they are determined to be arson.”
Through further investigation, officials reported that the fires occurred in the following areas:
- Monday, February 11th, approximately 8:30 a.m., 15th floor
- Monday, February 11th, approximately 10:30 a.m., 20th floor
- Monday, February 11th, approximately 11:00 a.m., 18th floor
- Tuesday, February 12th , approximately 10:30 a.m. , 13th Floor
- Tuesday, February 12th , approximately 2:30 p.m., 16th Floor
In response, Temple’s Assistant Vice President for University Communications, Ray Betzner said the University issued an alert which read in part:
“Construction continues on the site as scheduled. Federal and city authorities are investigating the incidents, which have been limited to the worksite and pose no threat to the Temple community.”
The Philadelphia Field Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering up to $5,000. The L.F. Driscoll Company is offering up to $10,000.
In the meantime, authorities are asking anyone who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously to contact investigators by calling: 1-888-ATF-FIRE or 1-888-283-3473.