Investigators are looking for information from the community about fires that were set at two adjoining townhouses early Friday afternoon.
The fires were set in basements of two townhomes in the 500 block of Cool Breeze Circle in the Holly Woods development off of Philadelphia Road.
“We could not find any clear motive why someone would intentionally break in and set multiple fires in two different dwellings,” Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire said. “It’s highly unusual we would find someone would break in.”
By all reports, he said, nothing was stolen or removed from either home, so it doesn’t appear the fires were an effort to conceal a crime.
Firefighters from the Abingdon Volunteer Fire Company and surrounding companies were dispatched at 12:16 p.m. for a dwelling fire after a passerby observed smoke coming from 503 Cool Breeze Circle, according to a news release from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
When they arrived, firefighters encountered a fire that had been contained to the basement because the fire sprinklers activated, according to the release.
They also found that one or more people had forced their way into the home.
While investigating the fire at 503 Cool Breeze Circle, firefighters noticed that one or more people had also forced their way into 501 Cool Breeze Circle, where they found multiple points of origin of a fire within the home.
With these observations, the Office of the State Fire Marshal was requested to the scene.
Investigators determined the fire within 503 Cool Breeze Circle, which is owned by Richard and Elizabeth Dubose, who were not home, was intentionally set and was contained to the basement after fire sprinklers activated.
They also concluded the multiple fires at 501 Cool Breeze Circle, owned by Nicole Tavenier, which was vacant and for sale, were also incendiary. Those fires had self-extinguished and did not produce the required heat to activate the fire sprinkler system.
Twenty-five firefighters assisted in the one-alarm fire in 503 Cool Breeze Circle. No injuries were reported and investigators estimate total damage to both homes at about $25,000.
Anyone living in the community, or who may have been passing by at the time of the fires, is asked to contact the fire marshal’s office with any information about these incidents.
“The best witnesses are the neighborhood,” Alkire said. “We know there are a lot of ring cameras, so if anyone happens to have something of the time and date, maybe it will show us something.”
That the fires were intentionally set and were not an effort to conceal a crime “is concerning” to the fire marshal’s office, Alkire said.
“That’s why we would like to locate and apprehend the individuals responsible for it,” he said. “That’s why we involve the neighbors.”
Deputy state fire marshals can be contacted at 410-836-4844, firstname.lastname@example.org/tips to the OSFM Blog @ http://mdosfm.wixsite.com/blog or by calling the Arson Hotline at 1-800-492-7529.