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2 charged in rink fire

August 21, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT and MARLO BARNHARTs

BRADDOCK HEIGHTS, Md. - Two Jefferson, Md., men, including a volunteer firefighter, were charged with second-degree arson in Wednesday's $500,000 fire that destroyed the Braddock Roller Rink, according to Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Robert B. Thomas Jr.

Kristopher Kettells, 20, and Allen Eugene Crocker, 19, both of Holter Road, were charged late Wednesday, Thomas said.

Crocker, a member of the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Co., was on one of the engines that responded to the fire, according to charging documents.

Both were being held in the Frederick County Detention Center Thursday night on $250,000 bond each, jail officials said.

Seven deputy state fire marshals from across the state, and eight to 10 federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms returned to the site of the two-alarm blaze around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to sift through the debris of the 96-year-old wood-frame building and collect evidence, Thomas said.

The fire destroyed the building at 4607 Old Swimming Pool Road, which contained a roller rink and bowling alley.

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A resident smelled smoke and discovered the blaze at 4:16 a.m., Thomas said.

When firefighters arrived, they found the building engulfed in flames, Thomas said. About 70 Frederick County, Md., fire and rescue personnel battled the blaze for more than 90 minutes, but were unable to save the structure.

There were no injuries, Thomas said.

Thomas said there was no explosion before the blaze. He said the business closed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Thomas said the ATF was asked to help search for the cause under an agreement between the agencies.

"We have a cooperative agreement with ATF that any commercial fire that causes more than $100,000 damage in the state qualifies for ATF assistance," he said.

Thomas said David Harrison Yinger, 60, of Braddock Heights, owned the rink and bowling alleys for the past 10 years. He said Yinger and his son Stephen operated the business.

Maryland State Police, Frederick County sheriff's deputies and the Frederick County State's Attorney's office also assisted in the investigation.

- The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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