- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009

COATESVILLE, PA. (AP) - The arson-plagued Philadelphia suburb of Coatesville was struck by yet another deliberately set fire early Saturday, the 20th in the city so far this year, authorities said.

The 1:30 a.m. blaze badly damaged two homes on East Valley Road in the city, authorities said.

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 the blaze 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 massive fire that severely damaged 15 row homes.

Law enforcement officials said Roger Leon Barlow Jr., of Downingtown, took responsibility for nine fires. But defense attorney Terrence J. Marlowe pointed out that no one had seen his client set the fires and that no physical evidence had been found.

Authorities last month also announced charges against Mark Gilliam, 19, of West Chester, who is 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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