Fire at Pennsylvania Strip Club Ruled Arson

May 09--The fire that damaged an Allentown strip club early Wednesday was intentionally set, a fire department official said Thursday.

The fire on the first floor of Scoobies Gentlemen's Club in the 2300 block of Hanover Avenue was started with some type of accelerant, Allentown fire Capt. John Christopher said.

The club has been closed for about six weeks, but it has been in the news recently because of a homicide outside the club in January.

The fore was reported about 3 a.m. Wednesday,

Firefighters quickly extinguished flames in the first-floor bar area, Christopher said. He estimated the damage from the fire and smoke at $30,000.

Christopher said a city fire marshal ruled the fire an arson, in part, because the department's arson dog indicated.

No one was in the building, which also has rooms on the second floor, when firefighters arrived, Christopher said.

He said a passerby reported the fire.

Although fire alarms were sounding when firefighters arrived, Christopher said they were not connected to an alarm service. If the business had been in operation, occupancy codes would have required them to be connected to a service, Christopher said.

A shooting death outside the club Jan. 26 has drawn attention to the club from nearby residents who consider the business a nuisance.

Allentown Assistant Police Chief Joseph Hanna said the business has been closed voluntarily for at least the last six weeks, but patrols have noticed lights occasionally on in the building during that time.

Scoobies is zoned as an adult-use establishment and operates as a bring your own bottle or BYOB club because it does not have a liquor license.

A neighborhood resident has started an online petition calling for the closure of the business, which previously operated as Bada-Bing Bada-Boom Goodfellas.

The victim in the fatal shooting, Tyree Wimberly, had not been in the club before he was killed. The suspect, Ulysses "Slime" Rodriguez, was inside, according to authorities. Investigators have said Rodriguez shot Wimberly because he would not buy a small bag of marijuana from him.

The FBI on Tuesday issued a federal arrest warrant for Rodriguez to assist Bethlehem investigators, who believe he fled to New York City.

Although the club has an Allentown address, the shooting happened outside within Bethlehem city limits.

Members of Wimberly's family held a candlelight vigil outside the club Wednesday night on what would have been Wimberly's 22nd birthday.

Tracy Jordan

Copyright 2013 - The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)