Advertisement

Five fires in Washington County might be linked to 14 other 'suspicious' blazes

March 28, 2013|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • This barn at 19420 Lappans Road near Boonsboro was destroyed in a fire early Thursday morning.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Dean Reeder watched as the remnants of his family’s barn continued to burn Thursday morning near Boonsboro.

The barn fire was one of five fires that was intentionally set late Wednesday and early Thursday in Washington County, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office.

“To me, it makes no sense to just ride around here and destroy all of this property and create hardship,” Reeder said. “Nothing in my lifetime like this has ever happened around here. It’s just hard to comprehend.”

Jason Mowbray, deputy chief state fire marshal, said authorities were investigating whether the five overnight fires were set by the same person or people who started 14 other fires — primarily in the central and southern parts of the county — since March 17.

Of those fires, the only one that was reported in the northern part of the county was in the 23100 block of Foxville Road near Smithsburg, where a Ford Escort was set ablaze on Thursday morning.

Advertisement

So far, the property that has been burned includes one barn, one garage, one mailbox, seven vehicles and nine plastic trash cans, the Fire Marshal’s Office said. Total damages have been estimated at close to $132,000.

Mowbray said investigators were concerned because the person or people who set the fires started off with trash cans and progressed to buildings. He said investigators couldn’t rule out the possibility that someone’s house might be targeted.

Stacey Fitzpatrick said her family’s trash can was burned early Monday in the first block of Sumter Drive in Keedysville. The Fire Marshal’s Office said that fire is on the list being investigated with the others.

Fitzpatrick said she was working at the time and was told by her family that a passerby repeatedly rang their doorbell to tell them that the trash can was on fire.

Investigators initially told the Fitzpatrick family that they believed the fire was the result of a St. Patrick’s Day prank, she said.

“I insisted on an investigation,” Fitzpatrick said. “I did ask police to do more surveillance.”

She said she and her husband are considering whether to buy a security system for their home.

“It is definitely escalating,” she said. “My fear is the next step it might be someone’s house. I really hope they catch whoever is doing this. It’s scary.”

Mowbray said the Fire Marshal’s Office is asking the public to call if they see the slightest activity that seems suspicious, such as a strange vehicle.

“The people know their area. They know what’s normal in their neighborhood and what’s abnormal,” he said. “What they might dismiss as something that isn’t out of the ordinary or really significant to them ... might be really important to our case.”

As they looked at the smoldering barn on Lappans Road near Boonsboro, Reeder and some of his neighbors who visited to give their support said they planned to be on the lookout.

Reeder said that although he lost the barn and all the hay that was inside, he felt somewhat fortunate because the cattle survived. He said he was able to find a temporary home for the animals on a friend’s property.

“It’s just a bad deal,” Reeder said. “How do you catch a guy like this? It’s tough to swallow.”

Anyone with information may call the Western Regional Office of the State Fire Marshal at 301-766-3882, or the Arson Hotline at 1-800-492-7529.

Clarification

This story, which first appeared online March 28, 2013, and in the print edition of The Herald-Mail on March 29, 2013, failed to mention the names of all of the owners of a barn that was intentionally set on fire in March 2013 in the 19400 block of Lappans Road near Boonsboro. The barn was owned by Dean, Dennis and Nelson Reeder.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|