ATF: Five fires at Morgan Hall ruled arson

The five fires occurred on Monday and Tuesday and involved construction debris, officials said.

After multiple fires at Morgan Hall caused gridlock on Broad Street earlier this week, federal and local authorities have ruled the five incidents to be acts of arson.

Though earlier reports indicated there were six separate fires, officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, confirmed Wednesday there were five incidents on Monday and Tuesday on separate floors of the high-rise. Property damage to the building is estimated at $100,000, said ATF Special Agent Steven Bartholomew.

Three construction workers at Morgan Hall suffered smoke inhalation Tuesday and were taken to the hospital, Bartholomew said.

Bartholomew added that the ATF’s citywide task force, which consists of the ATF, the Philadelphia Police Department and Philadelphia Fire Department, is working in conjunction with Temple Police to investigate the fires. Authorities were at the scene Wednesday investigating and conducting interviews, Bartholomew said.

The fires all involved construction debris including cardboard and trash, Deputy Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said. Leone said the fires appeared to be started with a lighter and no incendiary devices or materials were found. While the incidents impacted five floors of the 27-story building, Leone said work hasn’t been delayed.

“It hasn’t hindered any work,” Leone said. “It’s not like they’re losing any time.”

Officers have been detailed to the construction site in order to “know 100 percent who’s in the building,” Leone said.

No fires were reported Wednesday and Bartholomew wouldn’t comment on whether the ATF had any suspects in the case.

Anyone with information about the fires is urged to contact the ATF at 1-888-283-3473.

Sean Carlin  can be reached at or on Twitter @SeanCarlin84. 

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