POINT BREEZE (WTXF/AP) - Federal investigators confirmed someone intentionally started Monday morning’s large fire that burned several townhomes under construction in Point Breeze.
About 75 firefighters battled the flames for an hour. One of the structures collapsed and several more were severely damaged. Luckily, no one was hurt.
Anti-gentrification is thought to be the motive. There has been vandalism at the site at 20th and Wharton streets before.
FOX 29’s Steve Keeley reports about two weeks ago somebody put up flyers that said “Gentrification is modern day colonialism ... Don’t be pushed out. Stand up. Fight back.”
Now, a reward of $12,500 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
Tuesday, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced a $10,000 reward, and City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson -- who developer Ori Feibush actually ran against to unseat -- added $2,500.
Johnson talked to FOX 29’s Joyce Evans about gentrification and redevelopment.
“Obviously there has to be a balance,” he said. “I‘ve been always one to say a diverse community is a strong community.”
Feibush added constant security in the area and says he’s going to rebuild the 11 units, and even start on a new lot with 11 more units on Friday.
If you have any information on the arsonists, you’re asked to call the ATF hotline at 1-888-ATF-FIRE (283-3473) or click here to email your tip.
Also Monday, police made two arrests but are looking for almost 50 more people who spent the night vandalizing new property and cars in Northern Liberties. There were dozens of incidents, costing nearly $100,000, and anti-gentrification is blamed there, as well.
Police have not officially connected the two cases.