Small fires troubling Sykesville Some officials believe youths to blame


A rash of small fires, deliberately set in trash cans, is plaguing downtown Sykesville, Councilman William R. Hall Jr. said last night.

He said residents should keep their eyes open for anyone who might be setting those fires. He fears the problem will get worse, he said at the Town Council meeting last night.

"Someone is setting town trash cans and Dumpsters on fire," he said. "As a firefighter, I know it won't stop there. It will progress to something greater."

Mayor Kenneth W. Clark said town police were investigating the incidents.

None of the council members mentioned specific incidents or numbers of fires, but some said they think juveniles are setting them.

The mayor said he would alert officers to the incidents while Police Chief Wallace P. Mitchell is out of town attending a law enforcement seminar.

"I'll mention it tonight, if I see an officer," the mayor said.

Councilman Eugene E. Johnson said the fire problem may stem from the number of juveniles who chronically violate the town's 10 p.m. curfew.

"The law clearly states that juveniles on the streets after 10 p.m. without an adult are subject to a fine and so are their parents," Mr. Johnson said. "Our police need to enforce that curfew. I have seen kids on the streets at 2 a.m. They don't go in, if you don't make them."

Bruce Greenberg, a Main Street business owner, said, "Clearly we have several young people who are out of control, and irresponsible parents" who don't control their children. He said he has seen several juveniles on the roofs of his building and the old firehouse at night. He said town police have identified the juveniles and their parents.

"If we have a fire on Main Street, we will have a terrible problem," said Councilman Jonathan Herman, referring to the many aging, wooden structures that line the street. "The town parking lot also has become a congregating point for juveniles."

Mr. Herman said he also fears that a vacant house on Norwood Avenue might attract vandals or arsonists. He asked police to make extra rounds nightly in the area.

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