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Man is charged with setting fire

June 03, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - A Hancock woman's estranged husband was charged with setting a fire at the woman's mobile home Monday, Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Allen Gosnell said.

Mary Jane Ritchie, 53, had filed for a protective order against her estranged husband recently, but he had not received the order yet, Gosnell said.

Witnesses reported seeing a man use a lighter to set fire to the trailer at 18 Fleming Court in the Fleming Trailer Park off Pennsylvania Avenue, Gosnell said.

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Edward Harrison Ritchie, 50, was charged with first-degree arson, threat of arson and two counts of reckless endangerment, Gosnell said. The reckless endangerment charges were lodged because the mobile home was close to another trailer with two occupants.

Mary Jane Ritchie was not at home when the fire was started shortly before 5 p.m., Gosnell said. She was to stay with her landlady Monday night and then the American Red Cross would arrange for a hotel room, he said.

Edward Ritchie had been staying at a Berkeley Springs, W.Va., motel, Gosnell said. He was detained at the fire scene by Hancock Police until deputy state fire marshals arrived and placed him under arrest, he said.

Gosnell said the fire caused approximately $10,000 in damage to the home.

It took 30 firefighters from Hancock, Berkeley Springs and Little Orleans in Allegany County 30 minutes to put out the fire, according to Gosnell and Washington County Fire and Rescue Communications. The air and food units also responded.

Deputy State Fire Marshals Jamie Rodeheaver, Tim Warner and Ed Ernst and a canine investigated.

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