Task Force Makes Arrest in Pa. Church Fire; More than 25 Fires Being Investigated

April 27, 2005

Mark Potter, special agent in charge of the Philadelphia Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Stephen Cooper, chief of the Connellsville Police Department, recently announced the arrest of Harry Collins on state charges of risking a catastrophe and arson in connection with the fire that damaged the Wesley United Methodist Church in Connellsville last Feb. 23.

Collins, 57, of Connellsville, Pa., was arrested at his residence without incident. The Fayette County District Attorney’s Office was filing charges on Collins in Uniontown, Pa.

The blaze at the Wesleyan United Methodist Church was one of more than 25 fires that have been investigated in the Connellsville area over an 18-month period by a task force comprised of ATF, the Connellsville Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police.

“Mr. Collins was arrested for this fire at the Wesley United Methodist Church,” said Potter. “The joint investigation into the series of other arsons in Connellsville is continuing.”

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