Legislators Gather To Discuss Tougher Arson Law

THORNDALE – Area legislators met at Chester County’s Thorndale Fire Department to discuss Pennsylvania’s new, strengthened arson law and thank area emergency responders who battled a series of deadly arsons in the city of Coatesville in 2008 and 2009. Sen. John Rafferty of Chester, Berks & Montgomery Counties introduced the legislation after serial arsonists set more than 30 fires. The fires caused more than $3 million in damage, left scores of people homeless, and resulted in the death of an 83-year-old woman. Act 16 creates a new class of crime known as aggravated arson and sets tougher sentencing guidelines. A person can be convicted of aggravated arson if they intentionally start a fire – or aids or pays someone else to start a fire – with the intent to cause bodily injury or knowing that someone was inside the property at the time. The legislation increases penalties if a firefighter, police officer, emergency responder or civilian sustained injuries as a result of the crime. In addition, stronger sentences could also be imposed if more than three people were inside the property at the time of the crime or the arson resulted in more than $1 million in property damage. The measure received bipartisan support. Sen. Andy Dinniman also attended the press conference.

SEN. JOHN RAFFERTY

SEN. JOHN RAFFERTY

SEN. ANDY DINNIMAN

SEN. ANDY DINNIMAN

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