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Arson Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature

(The state capitol in Harrisburg.  File photo)

(The state capitol in Harrisburg. File photo)

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG (CBS) — Governor Corbett is expected to sign legislation prompted by a string of devastating arson fires in Coatesville several years ago.

The bill on the governor’s desk creates the crime of “aggravated arson.”

Erik Arneson is a spokesman for Chester Republican Dominic Pileggi, the Senate majority leader.

“The genesis for this legislation were the tragic arsons that happened in Coatesville several years ago. And the goal is to increase the penalties for this kind of arson – aggravated arson – when there’s a very real possibility that someone could get injured or even die,” Arneson says.

The bill creates tougher penalties for arson if a person sets a fire, or aids or pays someone in starting a fire, with the intent to injure someone, or if the person knows someone is inside a property at the time.

There are also tougher penalties if a first responder is injured.

The arsons that plagued Coatesville caused three million dollars in damage, left dozens homeless and resulted in one death.

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