$75,000 reward offered in arson case

February 13, 2009 8:24:35 PM PST
A $75,000 reward is now being offered for information leading to the arrest of an arsonist responsible for a San Francisco house fire that left six firefighters injured about a week ago, the fire department announced today.

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Several businesses and individuals in the community reached out to the fire department to add $50,000 to the reward, bringing the total to $75,000, fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said.

The initial $25,000 reward was announced earlier this morning at a news conference at City Hall that was packed with family members and colleagues of the injured firefighters, as well as city officials.

The fire was reported shortly before 12:30 a.m. Feb. 5 at a vacant pink, two-story home at 627 Felton St.

About 10 minutes after the first team of firefighters entered the home, the roof collapsed, sending hot gas and smoke down a hallway toward them.

Six firefighters were injured, including Lt. James App, an eight-year veteran of the department who suffered second- and third-degree burns, and Christopher Posey, an 11-year veteran who remains hospitalized in a coma and critical condition.

App was at the news conference with his family with gauze wrapped around his head and ears from the burns.

"We love fighting fire. An arson fire puts us behind. It's got a jump on us," he said.

John Hanley, president of San Francisco Fire Fighters Local 798 union, who made the original announcement about the reward this morning, said, "This is an arson fire. This is a fire of greed. We will not accept that."

A man named Jimmy Jen co-owns the home with his ex-wife and allegedly has a history of owning properties that have burned, fire officials said. No other details regarding Jen were released.

At today's news conference, a representative from Mayor Gavin Newsom's office, police, supervisors and former Mayor Willie Brown also crowded the steps, showing support for the firefighters.

"We have to find the culprit," Brown said. "San Francisco's finest has been threatened."

Anyone with information is asked to call the Arson Task Force's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444.

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