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Fire called suspicious

November 08, 1999

The day after Matthew Paul turned 2 years old he lost everything, including his birthday presents, in a Sunday night fire that Hagerstown Fire Marshal John Hersh believes was deliberately set.

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Hersh said he is ruling the fire at 207 Buena Vista Ave. as suspicious in origin. No family members were home when the fire broke out about 5:08 p.m. Sunday.

The fire destroyed Matthew Paul's room but some rooms, including the kitchen, suffered only smoke damage, said Melanie Paul, who works as a security guard at Mack Trucks. They have lived at the house for two years.

A next-door neighbor heard the smoke detector going off, checked to make sure no one was home and then called 911.

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The fire has displaced the Paul family, comprised of parents Nathan and Melanie Paul, their daughter, Danielle, 9, and Matthew.

The Red Cross has put the family up at the Super 8 Motel until Thursday but after that the family doesn't know where they will stay, Paul said.

Anyone who wants to help the Paul family can reach them at room 315 of the hotel, she said.

A week earlier, a fire at 211 Buena Vista Ave. was attributed to a 9-year-old playing with a lighter, Hersh said.

There is no evidence to suggest the two fires are connected, he said.

- Marlo Barnhart and Scott Butki

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