HARRISBURG - The Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday to increase penalties for arsonists.
The bill, which goes to the House, was prompted by arsonists who set 70 fires in Coatesville between February 2008 and March 2009. The fires led to the death of an 83-year-old woman, caused more than $3 million in damage, and left scores of people homeless.
"Too often arson is considered primarily a paper crime of fraud, most affecting insurance companies, but that is simply not the case," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. John Rafferty (R., Montgomery). "It is a deadly and costly crime that kills innocent people, puts emergency responders in harm's way, and can devastate neighborhoods."