Officials: Arson suspected in six fires at Temple U construction site


This post has been updated.

Six fires set at a construction site on North Broad Street at Temple University's Main Campus are under investigation as arson, a university official said Tuesday.

Temple spokesman Ray Betzner said three fires were set in the tower of Morgan Hall, a new dorm under construction at Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, on Monday, and another three fires were set at the same site Tuesday. The first fire was reported around noon Monday. The most recent, Betzner said, was early Tuesday afternoon.

All six fires have involved debris in the 27-story tower. Betzner said local and federal authorities were at the site late Tuesday afternoon investigating the fires.

Jim Creedon, the university’s senior vice president for construction, facilities and operations, said the damage caused by the fires has been minor and that it has not affected the construction schedule or planned opening date for the building.

“It’s certainly an annoyance and a nuisance, and it’s creating a very unsafe situation for an awful lot of workers going up and down that building,” Creedon said. “We’ve just got to get to the bottom of this.”

Union disputes have been blamed for other recent fires at city construction sites, but Creedon said Morgan Hall is a completely union site and that jurisdictional or labor disputes are not suspected in the fires.

No one was injured as a result of the fires, and university officials said the investigation is ongoing. An advisory issued to students by Temple Police on Tuesday alerted them to the fires and assured them that students were not in danger, Betzner said.

“All was limited to the construction site and students are not under any kind of potential harm,” he said.

The $216 million residence hall, according to The Temple News, is slated to open in the fall.