Reward in courthouse fire increases

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By Jenny Hartley

Authorities have released no new details about the fires at the Lancaster County Courthouse and 6th Circuit Solicitor's office, and continue to urge residents to come forward with information.

The reward for information leading to arrests in the fires has been increased from $12,000 to $15,000.

The Lancaster Police Department issued a press release Wednesday reminding residents that the arsonist could strike again, and that the perpetrator should be considered very dangerous by the public.

The arsonist may make suspicious comments about the fires, according to the press release.

"He may make comments such as how clever it was to set the courthouse and the solicitor's office on fire, how smart the offender is and how stupid or incompetent the investigators are," the press release said. "He may also comment on how lucky and relieved he is because, hopefully, his court case is indefinitely delayed."

Authorities are making it clear that court proceedings will continue.

The second floor of the courthouse was set on fire during the early morning hours of Aug. 4. Fire badly damaged the courtroom and roof of the 180-year-old building.

The solicitor's office on Dunlap Street was set afire about 4 a.m. Aug. 7.

A two-week term of general sessions court was slated to start on Aug. 4.

After being delayed one day, the court term continued at the Municipal Justice Center and Lancaster County Detention Center courtrooms.

Court and solicitor's office employees were able to salvage many court records, which were also backed up with computer records.

The Lancaster Police Department, State Law Enforcement Division, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Lancaster County Sheriff's Office, city and county fire services and the solicitor's office are working together on the fire investigations.

Anyone with information about the fires may call the S.C. Arson Hotline at 1-800-92ARSON or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-559-TIPS.

The Lancaster Police Department may be reached at 283-1171 and the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office at 283-3388.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or (803) 283-1151