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Reward offered for arsonist info

October 05, 2000

Reward offered for arsonist info



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


Information about who set an Aug. 29 fire on Locust Street could earn someone up to $6,000 if it leads to an arrest and conviction of the arsonist.

Hagerstown Fire Marshal John Hersh put up posters Tuesday on the now vacant apartment building at 424 N. Locust St. More than two dozen residents of the building were displaced in the 3:36 a.m. blaze that caused more than $100,000 damage.

A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered through an arson hotline program. Calls may be directed to the Hagerstown Fire Department at 301-790-2476, Hersh said.

The fire will be the subject of next week's Crime Solvers case in Washington County and an additional $1,000 reward could be available.

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The 24-hour Crime Solvers number is 301-733-4141.

Tenants of the fire-damaged building initially were told they wouldn't be able to live in the building for at least seven to 10 days because water and electricity were shut off.

When the damage was reassessed, however, the building was ruled unfit for habitation.

Hersh said the fire started in the northeast third-floor apartment, Apt. 12.

The apartment's tenant, Tony Grove, was not home at the time of the fire, but was located later, fire officials said.

Most, if not all, of the building's tenants were asleep when the fire broke out.

Two brothers were watching television in a Broadway basement apartment nearby when they heard windows breaking and a crackling sound. Then they saw flames shooting out of the brick building and called 911 on a cellular telephone.

Hersh said some of the smoke alarms in the building went off.

Several tenants said smoke and/or flames started seeping into their apartments.

The apartment where the fire originated was gutted while the other third-floor apartments were heavily damaged by heat and smoke, fire officials said.

Apartments on the first and second floors had lots of water damage, said Hagerstown Fire Capt. Kyd Dieterich.

Seven tenants were provided with immediate shelter through the American Red Cross while others were staying with family or friends.

Hersh said the building is owned by John Benisek who had $100,000 insurance.

A firefighter was treated at Washington County Hospital and released after stepping on a nail, fire officials said.

First Hose, Antietam, Junior, Western Enterprise, South End and Pioneer Hook and Ladder were assisted by Long Meadow and Community Rescue Service.

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