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Scranton Fire Chief: Arsonist’s Work Escalates

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Authorities in Scranton now say a fire that forced four people from their home is arson and is likely connected to several smaller arsons set in the city's south side.

If all of the fires set this week are the work of the same arsonist, this fire shows an escalation.

No one was hurt, but four people who lived in the apartment home are now without a place to stay. Meanwhile, Scranton police are looking for the person who set it.

South Scranton's latest arson hits way too close to home for Evelyn Padilla.

"I was scared, the houses are not that apart from each other. so, if this one caught fire, you know," Padilla said.

It's also the worst of about ten arsons in the neighborhood since Sunday.

Four people were home and had to escape the flames around 8:30 p.m. Thursday. It didn't take long for investigators to connect this to the other fires.

"Yesterday it was this house, tomorrow it's going to be another one, you know? They need to catch the person or the people who did that," Padilla said.

"Last night, there were four lives involved. That's the thing that really concerns us at this point now that it's escalated that far," said Scranton Fire Chief Pat DeSarno.

The chief says the arsonist started with burning trash near homes and in dumpsters behind businesses.

Early Sunday morning, surveillance cameras caught the suspected arsonist outside Chimney Charm on Pittston Avenue. They think he brings a bicycle, but not much else.

Security camera image

"It's an opportunity thing," said the chief. "He just sees some piles and debris together and using that as the ignition source. So, he doesn't seem to be bringing any kind of heavy accelerants with him to the scenes. But, that's what makes it difficult to, kind of like, catch this guy."

So, until an arrest is made, Evelyn Padilla is keeping an eye on anything that could catch fire.

"Yeah, I have my garbage cans in front of the house, so, I need to put it in another place."

Anyone with information on the string of arsons, or if you recognize the person in that surveillance video, you're asked to call Scranton police.