Suspicious Fires Worry Md. Neighbors; $500,000 in Damages

March 9, 2006

A home under construction that was hit by a fire in July burned again in what Marylanders investigators believe is the latest in a series of suspicious blazes in the neighborhood.

The pre-dawn fire did about $500,000 in damage to the home, which was nearly complete. Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department spokesman Mark Brady said the fire meets “the same troubling trend” as upward of a dozen similar fires in the past two years.

“You’d have to agree the circumstances here appear very suspicious,” Brady said, adding the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The same under-construction home last burned on July 19. After two fires, property owner Darryl Green said it was time to abandon plans to move there with his wife and four daughters, ages 1-19.

“I probably will never live here because it took me up to this time now to get them excited about getting into our new house, because during the first fire they were afraid that if I left them alone somebody was going to come in and burn them up,” Green said. He also wondered if race is motivating an arsonist.

“Somebody just doesn’t want me, a young black guy who can afford a half-a-million-dollar home on his own,” Green said.

Brady said the most recent blaze was similar to the other fires in that it broke out before 5 a.m. in a home that was under construction or vacant. He said the county’s fire chief wants to assure residents of Accokeek that his department is doing “everything we can to figure out what is going on down there.” But he said arsons are difficult to solve and take time.

Not all residents were understanding.

“We’ve had a problem in southern Prince George’s County of not getting a whole lot of information. It’s kind of scary,” said Trisha Colein.

“This is horrifying,” said Denise Brooks, who lives across from Green’s property. “It’s getting a little too close for comfort.”

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