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Both missing girls from Harford living center found, as officials continue fire investigation at nearby historic mansion

Two teenage girls have been returned to their group home in the Creswell area of Harford County after they went missing over the weekend, a day before a fire at an unoccupied historic mansion on the same grounds. Officials said the two events aren’t necessarily connected.

Destiny Hailie Madera and Kaylee Danae Wright, both 16, were reported missing to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday at approximately 9:11 p.m. They had last been seen at approximately 1 a.m. Saturday at the Arrow Child & Family Ministries Crossroads Transitional Living Center, where they are residents, Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire said.

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Arrow’s Crossroads center, located at 2408 Creswell Road between Bel Air and Aberdeen, is designed to prepare girls for successful independent living after foster care, according to Arrow’s website.

Kaylee was found Sunday night in Havre de Grace and Destiny was found Monday night in the Aberdeen area, according to Alkire. Both were returned to the care and custody of Arrow center staff.

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Neither girl was injured, Alkire said. The two girls appeared to have traveled together initially but split up at some point. Their modes of transportation are unclear, he said, and still under investigation.

Both teens were reported missing before a Sunday fire at a Victorian-style mansion a couple hundred feet away.

The investigation into the fire is ongoing; fire officials were searching for the girls “strictly for the well-being of them," Alkire said, but now investigators can focus their efforts on determining the cause of the fire with both confirmed safe.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is assisting the fire marshal’s office in the investigation of the fire and helped conduct interviews and neighborhood checks that led them to Destiny’s location.

Just because the ATF was involved in finding Destiny, Alkire clarified, does not make the fire’s circumstances suspicious. The Office of the State Fire Marshal often partners with the ATF for the resources and manpower they can bring to bear, especially when losses from a fire are significant.

Arrow’s chief relations officer Debi Tengler said the Crossroads living center supports people ages 13 to 21 in gaining independence and transitioning back into society through a shared living arrangement and education, where applicable. Residents of the center begin living in dorm housing before moving to apartment-style housing and gradually gaining more autonomy.

Both the teens were on the first step of the program, Tengler said. While they are not free to come and go as they please ― the center has a schedule residents must adhere to — the Crossroads center is not a lockdown facility.

Running “can occur and does occur with children who are in their process of healing,” Tengler said.

“That is not unusual for anybody working with traumatized children or adults," she said.

The center is checking to see if any of its policies and guidelines were violated, she said. Because both are minors, Tengler could not disclose whether they had drivers’ licenses or other personal information.

Fire investigation at historic mansion continues

The fire caused significant damage to Fair Meadows, a historic mansion that was being renovated, Alkire said. Investigators are considering the building a total loss, he said. The origin and cause of the fire remain under investigation.

Nobody was injured in the blaze, which took about two hours to control, Alkire said.

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While the mansion is located in close proximity to the Arrow living center, the Texas-based company does not own the home, “nor have we ever occupied that building,” Tengler said.

The mansion’s attic collapsed into the lower floors, and the building suffered “extensive water damage," he said, making for a potentially time-consuming investigation and excavation.

The office’s bomb squad has given investigators an aerial view of the building using a drone, being the department’s licensed drone-operators.

Investigators were initially unable to enter because of the structural damage to the building, but they were able to gain entry Tuesday with the help of excavation equipment, Alkire said.

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact the Northeast Regional Office at 410-836-4844.

The Fair Meadows mansion is on the National Registry of Historic Places. It was added in November 1980, when it was still part of the Eastern Christian College campus.

The mansion was built in 1868 for Clement Dietrich, the last owner of Harford Furnace. The significance of Fair Meadows, according to its page on the Maryland Historic Trust website, are twofold.

“First, as a residence executed in a richly ornamented but conservative interpretation of the Second Empire style, Fair Meadows embodies the distinctive characteristics of a period and type of architecture that, while popular in the U.S. in the 1860s and 1870s, was rarely used in its ‘high style’ form in rural Maryland. Its important features include the exterior stonework, intact interior tile flooring, plaster ornamental work, and marble mantels, and a mansard-roofed carriage house,” according to the site.

"Second, as the house which was the residence of Clement Dietrich, an entrepreneur who substantially expanded the Harford Furnace Iron Works to include flour and saw mills and a large chemical manufacturing plant, Fair Meadows is associated with a person significant in Harford County's industrial history."

Eastern Christian College began as Eastern Christian Institute in 1946, meeting in a church in East Orange, N.J. The school moved to Creswell, halfway between Bel Air and Aberdeen, in 1958 and opened as a college with five students in 1960, according to Baltimore Sun archives.

In the 1995-96 school year, it merged with Lincoln Christian College in Illinois amid enrollment and financial struggles. It closed in the early 2000s.

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