Pt. Breeze Arson Investigation Begins

Filed under: Featured News,South Philadelphia,South Philly |

BY ELDON GRAHAM

The fire left the housing development in a dilapidated state and ATF officials quickly identified the cause as Arson.

Point Breeze is still recovering from the alarming fire that tore through construction houses owned by South Philadelphia businessman Ori Feibush. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives Philadelphia Field Division ruled that the cause of the fire was arson.

Investigators have conducted a thorough examination of the fire scene and have ruled the cause of the fire to be incendiary. The fire destroyed several residential properties that were in various stages of construction. There were no reported injuries as a result of the fire. Investigators are seeking assistance from the public that may aid them in solving this arson.

The ATF announced a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the arson that occurred at approximately 4:15 a.m. earlier this month at 21st & Wharton Streets in Philadelphia.

“Acts of arson are dangerous crimes and threaten the community. ATF is committed to keeping the public safe from those who maliciously set fires,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Sam Rabadi. “We are asking the public to provide any information that would lead investigators to those responsible for this arson.”

The investigation is being conducted by investigators from the ATF, the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Philadelphia Police Dept.

In the aftermath of the fire, Feibush addressed the arson in a statement: “After a thorough investigation by the Fire Dept., ATF and the FBI, Monday’s fire at 2010 Wharton Street has been ruled an act of arson. We don’t think this was an isolated incident, and believe there is a connection to previous instances of vandalism against our office and development projects as well as Monday’s vandalism in South Kensington.”

Feibush went on to say that this act of vandalism will not deter him: “We have already begun our efforts to clean up our job site and will not be intimidated by the misguided and dangerous efforts of a few individuals.”

Other parts of the statement have Feibush encouraging members of the community to assist in the investigation by turning in any evidence that might point to the culprits. “For anyone that has a security camera in the blocks around 2010 Wharton Street, any assistance you could offer would be much appreciated. If you have information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators, ATF is offering a $10K reward. Most importantly, we want to thank the first responders and the fire department for everything they have done for us since Monday morning, and want to thank our supporters, clients, and friends for the outpouring of support.”

DEVELOPER Ori Feibush has played a major role in the revitalization of Pt. Breeze – but has stirred controversy in some quarters in the process.

2nd Dist. Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, a lifelong resident of Point Breeze, also released a statement deploring the act and encouraging assistance from the community as well.

“I am alarmed and extremely disturbed to hear the 20th & Wharton Street fire that took place in the early hours of Monday, May 1 has been ruled arson,” the councilman said. “Vandalism of businesses and homes is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. Justice should be swift and severe for the many lives that were put in danger in the Point Breeze neighborhood. This criminal activity damaged multiple properties, recklessly endangered the lives of emergency personnel, and could have sent an entire neighborhood block up in flames. We are lucky no one was killed or seriously injured and I commend the Philadelphia Fire Dept. for their swift actions to contain the fire and minimize damage. The perpetrator(s) must be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Philadelphia has recently been the battle ground for several gentrification vs anti-gentrification issues, particularly in Point Breeze and the Temple University area of North Philadelphia. Some community members who live in Point Breeze want to preserve the neighborhood’s existing character, while some developers want to reshape the community to accommodate new commercial and middle-class residential uses more appropriately.

Anyone having information regarding this arson should call the ATF 24/7 hotline at 1 (888) ATF-FIRE (1-888-283-3473), email: ATFTips@atf.gov or submit a tip anonymously by using the ReportIt App on your mobile phone.

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