Three barn fires ruled arson officials offer reward for information


Three barn fires early yesterdayin northwest Carroll County have been ruled arson, and authorities are offering up to $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

W. Feron Taylor, deputy state fire marshal, said investigators don't believe the fires are connected to an arson early Tuesday that destroyed a Westminster home and forced its occupants -- two adults, two teen-agers and three children -- to escape by leaping from second-story bedroom windows.

According to fire marshals, the first barn fire began about 2: 25 a.m. in the 900 block of Wedgewood Terrace in Pleasant Valley. The barn, owned by Michael J. Reilly, housed three cars, a tractor and garden tools.

About 30 volunteer firefighters from Pleasant Valley, Reese and Westminster controlled the blaze in about 20 minutes, said investigators, who estimated damage at $60,000.

The second barn blaze broke out about 3: 30 a.m. in the 1500 block of Clearview Road in Union Bridge, fire marshals said. The barn, owned by Paul Rodkey, was at least 200 years old and was used to store 200 bales of hay and other items.

About 50 firefighters from Taneytown, Harney, Union Bridge, New Windsor and Winfield brought the blaze under control in about 45 minutes, fire officials said. Damage was estimated at $35,000.

The third barn fire, in the 4600 block of Babylon Road, in Taneytown was reported about 6: 30 a.m., but investigators believe it might have been set as early as 4: 30 a.m.

About 30 firefighters from Pleasant Valley, and Kingsdale, and Littlestown, Pa., quickly controlled the blaze, limiting damage to about $5,000, fire marshals said.

The barn, owned by Doris Miles, was empty, except for a small amount of loose hay, fire officials said.

The times of the barn fires and their proximity led fire marshals to conclude they were the work of the same arsonist or group of arsonists, officials said.

Damage in Tuesday's 12: 39 a.m. house fire in the 1300 block of Baltimore Blvd. in Westminster was estimated at $80,000.

All of the occupants were treated for ankle injuries and smoke inhalation at Carroll County General Hospital and released. One resident, Deborah McKenzie, 32, also suffered minor cuts and burns to her arms, fire officials said.

Investigators said the fire was set on the porch of the two-story, wood-frame home and quickly spread.

The fire blocked escape from the second floor.

Taylor said he didn't know whether the reward, which is determined by an independent committee, would apply to the barn fires collectively, or individually.

Anyone with information about the incidents may call the arson hot line at 1-800-492-7529.

Pub Date: 6/11/98

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