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The office of a West Philadelphia state representative was targeted by arsonists early Friday morning, an attack that officials say resulted from the politician's efforts to clean up the area.

Police say that at about 4:05 a.m. Friday, an unknown person broke a plate-glass window on the side of state rep. Thomas Blackwell's (D-Phila.) office, located at 52nd and Arch streets. A flammable liquid was poured down the wall and a match was lit, starting the fire.

No one was in the building at the time, and firefighters responded quickly and were able to extinguish the fire within 10 minutes.

The blaze caused about $10,000 worth of damage, Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker said.

Police have not identified any suspects.

Blackwell has moved his operations to his North Philadelphia office for the time being, and he said that he believes the arson was started by opponents of Blackwell's policies to eradicate violence and drug-related activities in West Philadelphia.

Most notably, he has led efforts to shut down several local bars, including the Corral Bar and the Silver Saddle Saloon, both notorious to community members for the violence they attract.

Blackwell was able to see a silver lining in the fire, however: He sees the incident as a sign that his campaign against drugs and violence has been effective enough to anger those engaged in such activities.

"Apparently, we're making some inroads, or this wouldn't have happened," Blackwell said.

Blackwell - who represents the area directly west of Penn's campus - will not relocate his office, where he has been working since February 2005. He hopes to have enough of the damages repaired for the office to be functional again in one and a half to two weeks.

Within the West Philadelphia community, Blackwell is generally a well-liked figure.

Sharon Baker, who lives on the 5200 block of Market Street, was shocked to hear about the fire. Although she lives down the block from his office, she had not heard about the incident. She was, however, familiar with many of Blackwell's policies.

"The community in general is very fond of him," Baker noted. "He's done a lot more than most people to try and keep us safe."

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