Ar­son probe be­gun in Riverdale fire that in­jured 7 PG fire­fight­ers

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY MERED­ITH SOMERS

A fire in Riverdale that in­jured seven Prince Ge­orge’s County fire­fight­ers is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated as ar­son, of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day.

The fire started at about 9:10 p.m. Fri­day in the base­ment of a house in the 6400 block of 57th Av­enue.

“This cow­ardly crime is un­con­scionable to me,” said Prince Ge­orge’s County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor. “I as­sure you we will leave no stone un­turned to bring any­one re­spon­si­ble to jus­tice.”

Fire­fighter Kevin O’toole, 22, re­mains in Washington Hospi­tal Cen­ter with burns over roughly 50 per­cent of his body. He was listed in crit­i­cal but sta­ble con­di­tion Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

The other in­jured fire­fight­ers are back home.

Ethan Sor­rell, 21, was re­leased from the hospi­tal’s burn unit Tues­day night.

Fire­fight­ers ar­rived at the burn­ing home min­utes af­ter the first calls came in. Some rushed through a base­ment door while oth­ers burst through the front door in search of po­ten­tial vic­tims. The high winds and open doors re­sulted in a burst of flames that in­jured sev­eral fire­fight­ers on the first floor. Fire­fight­ers thought some­body might be in­side af­ter they saw a parked car, but the house turned out to be va­cant.

Of­fi­cials also said Wed­nes­day that they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing a fire at the house next door on 57th Av­enue two or three weeks ago that never was re-


The in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­cludes the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice and the Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives.

Right now, of­fi­cials do not sus­pect a se­rial ar­son­ist, said Spe­cial Agent David Che­p­lak, spokesman for ATF’S Bal­ti­more field of­fice.

But he said na­tional num­bers show that some­one who sets a fire likely will do it again.

The two fires were set in the base­ment of va­cant, sin­gle-fam­ily homes, though Chief Bashoor said ev­i­dence in­di­cated that some­one had been stay­ing in the homes.

Mr. Sor­rell’s ra­dio was dis­played dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s news con­fer­ence, its neon green cas­ing and smooth but­ton con­trols charred and twisted.

The ra­dios are meant to with­stand tem­per­a­tures as high as 150 de­grees, Chief Bashoor said, though he ad­mit­ted that is not very hot when it comes to fight­ing fires.

Prince Ge­orge’s County State’s At­tor­ney An­gela Al­so­brooks made a prom­ise to the per­son or peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for the fire that they would be caught and “pros­e­cuted to the full ex­tent of the law,” which could mean a first-de­gree ar­son charge that car­ries up to 30 years be­hind bars and a $50,000 fine.

The melted ra­dio used by in­jured Bladens­burg Fire Depart­ment vol­un­teer fire­fighter Ethan Sor­rell was on dis­play at Wed­nes­day’s news con­fer­ence. Mr. Sor­rel was re­leased from Washington Hospi­tal Cen­ter’s burn unit Tues­day .

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