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Rewards offered for information in arson

July 19, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - The April 19 arson of Meadow Lane Plaza just outside of Martinsburg remains unsolved, and rewards of $2,500 and $1,000 still are being offered for information that could lead to an arrest.

The state's Arson Hotline and Berkeley County Crime Solvers are offering the rewards, Assistant State Fire Marshal Ed Robinson said this week.

Intentionally set in the early morning hours of April 21, the fire destroyed an accounting and tax preparation business and heavily damaged a family-owned restaurant.

Since then, Louis T. Young & Co. moved to U.S. 11, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Eastern Panhandle moved to the 100 block of North Queen Street. The owners of Meadow Lane Family Restaurant opted not to reopen.

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"It hasn't changed much," Robinson said of the investigation. "It's still about the same."

The results of samples retrieved for testing at the West Virginia State Police laboratory are unknown, Robinson said.

"The easy part is proving the arson," Robinson said.

Dispatched at 4:45 a.m., the fire began in the accounting business and spread south, before firefighters stopped it just shy of the office space for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Statewide, Robinson said investigators' success rate with solving arsons is more than twice the national average, according to the latest statistics.

"Some get solved," Robinson said. "Some we know who did it, but we don't have enough evidence to charge them."

According to the State Fire Marshal's Office Web site, the Arson Hotline, like the Crime Solvers line, is available for the public to relay information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Arson Hotline number is 800-233-FIRE, and the Berkeley County Crime Solvers hot line number is 304-267-4999.

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