Wannabe Firefighter Now Accused Fire Starter

A "wannabe firefighter" who was denied a job fighting fires is now at the center of the investigation into the arson fires that have terrorized Chester County.

Investigators are starting to put together their case against 19-year-old Mark Gilliam who is being accused of being at least partially responsible for a string of arsons that have devastated the area in and around Coatesville, Pa.

Gilliam was once denied a job with the West Bradford Fire Department, according to prosecutors. Now the suspected arsonist is facing a charge that he lit a fire on January 25 at the Happy Days Family Bistro located on E. Lincoln Highway in Thorndale, Pa.

19-year-old Roger Barlow, Gilliam's alleged accomplice gave up Gilliam, according to court documents. Barlow is charged with a string of arsons including a January 24 fire that left 50 people homeless.

Gilliam, Barlow and another person were at the Happy Days Family Bistro when a fire broke out in the men's room, according to officials.

Last night the ATF executed a search warrant on Gilliam's parent's home. Officials found news articles about some of the fires, black powder and a device that reportedly is often used by arsonists to set delayed-start fires (so that the arsonist can get away), according to court documents.

Gilliam reportedly drove around with strobe lights in is car, according to prosecutors. He is also accused of stealing a fire radio scanner and impersonating a fire fighter.

Gilliam is being held without bail after making his first appearance in federal court on Friday. He even dressed in a firefighter shirt at his court appearance.

His attorney Rick Meanix is unsure if he will be able to get his client out on bail after Gilliam's next scheduled court appearance on February 27.

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