Date: 2/19/2009

COATESVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A 19-year-old was charged Thursday with setting at least seven fires in an arson-plagued steel town, including a block-long blaze that displaced dozens of people last month.

Roger Leon Barlow Jr., of nearby Downingtown, was charged with arson, aggravated assault and related counts. He was arraigned Thursday afternoon and his bail was set at $9 million.

Staff at the Downingtown district court where Barlow was arraigned said he did not have an attorney.

Barlow is a pyromaniac who liked to watch things burn, Chester County District Attorney Joseph Carroll told The Associated Press.

Coatesville, about 35 miles west of Philadelphia, has tallied 18 arsons this year and 26 last year, one of them fatal. Residents have said they are scared to go to bed at night for fear another fire will break out.

With a suspect under arrest, Carroll said residents should be able to sleep easier, “although I’m not convinced this is the only person involved.”

Carroll said Barlow set a fire late last month that tore through 15 row homes on a single block, displacing dozens of residents and causing an estimated $1.2 million in damage.

In December, authorities arrested three people believed to have been responsible for some of the arsons, including the early December blaze that killed an 83-year-old woman, but the fires continued.

Officials plan to release more details at a news conference later Thursday.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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