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Arson believed to be cause of fire that destroyed vacant house near Hancock

February 03, 2012|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK — Investigators believe arson was the cause of a Thursday afternoon fire that gutted a vacant house near Hancock, according to the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal.

The 1:52 p.m. fire caused about $50,000 in damage to the two-story home at 13501 Locher Road, southwest of Hancock, a news release from the fire marshal’s office said.

Investigators ruled out accidental causes because the house was vacant, Deputy State Fire Marshal Ed Ernst said Friday.

“We know the rail trail is commonly used during the day, so we’re looking for anybody with information that saw anybody in the house, saw anybody around the house,” Ernst said.

The house is owned by Fairview Orchards Landbesitz Inc., the release said.

It is part of Fairview Orchards and has been vacant for about 15 years, Hancock Volunteer Fire Co. Deputy Chief Danny Shirley said Thursday.

It took firefighters about 45 minutes to bring the blaze, which  originated in a summer kitchen, under control, the release said.

Twenty firefighters responded from the Hancock Volunteer Fire Company Inc., along with fire companies from Little Orleans, Md., Needmore, Pa. and Berkeley Springs, W.Va., the release said. The Hancock Rescue Squad Inc. also responded, and the Hancock Police Department is assisting with the investigation.

Anyone who saw someone in the area between 1:30 and 2 p.m. can call the fire marshal’s office at 1-877-890-0199.

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