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Fire that destroyed four homes ruled arson

Updated: Monday, January 20 2014, 07:04 PM CST
Reported by: Donna Kirker Morgan

HARRISBURG -- Late this afternoon placards that read "Arson" were posted on four homes on 4th Street after a “fire bomb” was tossed onto a home’s porch just before 6 a.m.

Police think a fire bomb was thrown at a home and the fire spread fast and forced 14 people from their homes, many of them young children.

It took an arson dog just seconds to give the signal that he detected an accelerant. Our camera watched as he sat down, which is his signal that he smelled an accelerant.

“Somebody threw a fire bomb at the home with the intention of burning it down, with occupants inside,” said Harrisburg Fire Department Chief Brian Enterline.

The address of home that was targeted is 2128 N. 4th St. where 10 people were inside, many children, including infants.

Enterline said that police are trying to determine why the home was targeted. He did not think there would be other fire bombings, although he would not elaborate.

Altogether, 14 people were lucky to get out unharmed from a fire was described as “hell” by one woman.

“I thought I saw Satan in that house it was that bad, a fury of fire," Tina Chism said.

Fire fighters kept the fire out of her home. Even so, she and friend say the fire spread so fast they only had seconds to grab her 5-year-old grandson and run. 

This street has seen its share of hardships -- including a huge sinkhole last year -- yet incredibly none of this can sink this couple's spirits.

Francisco Ortiz says that people were banging on their doors, alerting them of the fire. He says that is proof that people on the street still care about each other.

Monday afternoon Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse joined a press conference with the fire chief, saying “We could use this as an example of stopping the old ways of keeping things to yourself, and come together to get information to Harrisburg police.”

Enterline says no one was injured, except for a a few firefighters who slipped on ice that developed from the water used to fight the fire.

Anyone with information regarding this fire is encouraged to contact Det. Jeff Schriver with the Harrisburg Police Department at (717) 255-3183 or This is an open an active police investigation at this time.

The Red Cross is assisting the people displaced in the blaze.
Fire that destroyed four homes ruled arson

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