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Posted at 4:38 PM ET, 01/26/2011

Possible arson probed in Mount Rainier

By Matt Zapotosky
Matt Zapotosky

The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department issued a cryptic warning to Mount Rainier residents Wednesday afternoon, urging them to leave lights on and report any perceived suspicious activity while investigators probe a "series" of possible arsons.

Mark Brady, a Prince George's Fire/EMS spokesman, said he could not release even basic details on the fires -- including exactly when and where they occurred -- but fire officials wanted to warn residents "just that there is some illegal behavior going on within the city limits of Mount Rainier that includes arson."

Investigators are exploring two small fires that occurred within Mount Rainier as arsons, Brady said, though they are also reviewing other recent fires to see if they might be connected.

Mount Rainier Chief Michael Scott said the first fire occurred Sunday in the 4000 block of 32nd Street, and the second fire occurred early Wednesday morning in the 3100 block of Bunker Hill Road.

Both were small porch fires, and there appear to be no connections between the people whose homes were involved "other than they're residents of Mount Rainier and live about a block and a half apart," Scott said.

"We really don't think they're being targeted," Scott said. "We're just dealing with somebody who's set a couple of fires in our town."

Brady said the two fires have done "minimal" damage, and no one has been hurt. He declined to say why the homes were targeted but said the fatal fire in Hyattsville that killed two sisters is not believed to be connected to the arsons.

Scott said investigators were also probing a few possibly related fires across the line in D.C., but right now, the investigation was centered mainly in Mount Rainier.

"We ask residents to be vigilant," Brady said. "No matter what they see, it may seem insignificant to them, but it could be the crucial break that we need."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Fire/EMS Department's Arson Hotline at 301-77-ARSON.

This item has been updated since it was first published.

By Matt Zapotosky  | January 26, 2011; 4:38 PM ET
Categories:  Fires & Fire Safety, Matt Zapotosky, Pr. George's  
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