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Aberdeen man facing arson charges, allegedly set garage fire in September, investigators say

A Harford County man alleged set an Aberdeen garage on fire in mid-September, investigators say, and is now facing multiple arson-related charges.

Augustine Anthony Fortune, 69, of Aberdeen, is charged with second-degree arson, first-degree malicious burning, malicious destruction of property over $1,000 and theft under $1,500. He is being held without bail at the Harford County Detention Center after a hearing Monday in District Court. Online court records do not list an attorney for Fortune.

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Firefighters from the Aberdeen Fire Department and other nearby companies were called to the 100 block of South Parke Street around 8:09 p.m. Sept. 16 for a reported garage fire. It took 25 firefighters about 10 minutes to control the blaze. The fire caused about $10,000 in damages to the two-vehicle detached garage, according to a news release from the Office of the State Fire Marshal. No vehicles were inside the garage and no other structures were damaged.

Deputy State Fire Marshals conducted an investigation and determined the fire was intentionally set. During their investigation, Fortune was identified as a suspect, according to the news release, and was arrested Sunday with assistance from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.

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Fortune called 911 to tell investigators that a lawn mower filled with gasoline was in the garage at the time it was on fire, according to documents filed in Harford County District Court. But investigators, upon searching the singed garage, did not find a lawn mower or other lawn equipment in the area. Fortune also gave them inconsistent statements about the lawn equipment’s location, the documents state.

A witness said they saw Fortune taking the equipment down the street earlier that day. When asked if he took the equipment, Fortune said “I’m not gone say that,” according to the documents.

Fortune also gave inconsistent stories of when he was last in the building, the documents state, and the time period leading up to the fire.

Video footage contradicted Fortune’s statements, showing him removing trash and boards from inside the garage, according to the documents. The video also shows bright light reflecting off an adjacent structure, and a banging noise can be heard, according to the documents.

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Fortune said he was in the garage for 2 to 3 minutes before locking the door.

“Within four minutes after this time period, a sudden flash of light is observed from the area in front of the involved structure,” the documents state. “The observations of light are consistent with a growing fire.”

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