Folks in Shamokin, especially those in the neighborhood of North Shamokin Street, can certainly sympathize with residents of Atlas as that Mount Carmel Township community copes with the news of three suspicious fires in less than a week.

As the cases against the two men charged in connection with four suspicious Shamokin fires from 2012 and 2013 are nearing their apparent legal conclusions, authorities and citizens in Atlas are, unfortunately, still in the fear stage.

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Authorities have not yet ruled the Atlas fires arson, but they are at least "suspicious," particularly because of their close proximity and their origin in the overnight hours.

It's causing many restless nights, no doubt, as residents wonder if, when and where the next fire will strike.

It took months - and yet another fire - for Shamokin investigators to get the break they needed in making arrests. Their persistence has been rewarded with two suspects facing serious charges, not to mention, of course, an end to the string of suspicious fires.

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Police in Mount Carmel Township are stepping up patrols in Atlas in hopes of preventing another fire, but, as with any potential crime, prevention is difficult.

We can't help thinking, however, about the role the public can play in helping authorities. Sooner or later, criminals slip up, whether it's through boasting - as one of the Shamokin arson defendants did at the scene of his last arson fire - or failing to adequately cover their tracks.

That will happen in Mount Carmel Township, too, given time. It can happen even sooner if citizens stay alert for suspicious activity and report any possible leads to police. As is often said, don't assume police have information; it's better they hear the same thing repeatedly than take a chance that they never hear it at all.