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Home  >  Topics  >  Investigations

December 09, 2003
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Arson Destroys Cop's House in West Philly

Blaze Forces Evacuation of Entire Block

A late Monday night row house fire is now being ruled arson after a Philadelphia police officer and her three children were apparently targeted by an arsonist.

No one was injured after the fire broke out about 11 p.m. on south 55th street in West Philadelphia. Police were called to the scene and helped get residents to safety, at one point breaking a window to alert residents, Lt. Michael Chitwood said.

Chitwood said the officer, who was not named, lived in the home with her three children, her mother and a boyfriend.

There was very little left of the house at South 55th Street after the one-alarm fire started around 11 p.m. Monday night.

At first, authorities were hesitant to put any kind of label on the fire, but the fire marshal's office ruled it as an arson Tuesday morning.

Witnesses said the family living here barely had time to get out before flames completely consumed the house. Investigators also confirmed the house belongs to a Philadelphia police officer, and she was inside with her three young children and three other adults.

The fire marshal said an incendiary device was found at the scene.

"We would say it doesn't appear that this incident is related to the officer's activity as a Philadelphia police officer," said Lt. Michael Chitwood.

Authorities were not releasing the police officer's name, but they said she was a 5-year veteran on the force.

Authorities also said no one has been arrested, no one was in custody and they were questioning several people, including the police officer's boyfriend.

No one was injured in the blaze, officials said.

This story was reported by and The Associated Press

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