In Point Breeze arson, a ‘person of interest’ on video

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Federal and city authorities investigating an arson of townhouses under construction in Point Breeze earlier this month are searching for a man seen on surveillance video apparently walking about a block from the site on the night of the blaze.

The video, released by Philadelphia Police and by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), appears to show a thin white man wearing a dark hoodie, brown shoes, and a backpack. An ATF spokeswoman said the video was shot on the 1900 block of Reed Street. 

Police said the video was recorded before the fire but did not specify what time. A short time after the man walks west on Reed, the video appears to show, he can be seen walking east on the same block, this time without the hoodie.

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Philadelphia Police described the man as a “person of interest” in the case. Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said in an interview last week that investigators were working around the clock to identify anyone involved, but he declined to offer details.

“We’re really confident our fire marshals and partners with [police] will find out who is responsible and bring them to justice,” he said. “I am really confident about that.”

The two-alarm fire, which was reported around 4:15 a.m. May 1, destroyed four large townhouses under construction and damaged five others at 20th and Wharton Streets. It took about 75 firefighters an hour to bring the fire under control.

The townhouses, each expected to be valued at more than $500,000, were being constructed by real estate developer Ori Feibush. Feibush has sparked controversy in the past, accused of gentrifying parts of Point Breeze at the expense of long-term residents. He and his company, OCF Realty, have been targeted with vandalism and harassment. Fliers criticizing his company were posted in the neighborhood just weeks before the fire.

A total of $12,500 in reward money is available for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case: $10,000 from the ATF and $2,500 from Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s office.

Anyone with information can reach the ATF at 1-888-283-3473 or, or Philadelphia Police at 215-686-TIPS. Tipsters can also send information via text to 773847.

Staff writer Stephanie Farr conrtibuted to this article.

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