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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Arson is Cause of Riverdale Fire that Injured Seven Firefighters

 MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930, mebrady@co.pg.md.us

Fire Chief Marc Bashoor led the press conference and was joined by the States Attorney, the County Police Department, Agents from the ATF, PGFD Command Staff and Fire Investigators. (BRADY)

Officials Seek Community Help in Identifying Suspects

A fire occurred on Friday, February 24, 2012, at 9:11 P.M., in which 7 firefighters were injured and treated at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Six of those injured have been released, with 1 remaining in the Burn Unit.  A Press Conference was held at the Fire/EMS Departments Cranford-Graves Fire Services Building in Landover Hills.  The purpose was to bring everyone up to date with the firefighter injuries and announce the cause and origin of the fire.

Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor was elated to announce that Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Fighter Ethan Sorrell has been released from the hospital. Ethan was released on Tuesday evening.  He was injured in the  fire on Friday evening, February 24, 2012.  Bladensburg Volunteer Chief Randy Kuenzil informed Chief Bashoor that Sorrell will have a follow up appointment  next week. Sorrell returned home with his parents to North Carolina for about a week or until his follow up visit next week.  Upon his return he will more than likely reside at the Bladensburg Fire/EMS Station and make follow-up medical appointments and spending most of his time at the Burn Unit with his fellow firefighter, Kevin O’Toole.  He remains in "Critical" but "Stable" condition.  Kevin is undergoing medical procedures and skin graph surgeries and is expected to remain in the Burn Unit for up six weeks,

As with any fire of this magnitude, a complete and thorough investigation into the cause and origin is conducted. This particular investigation involved investigators from the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department’s Office of the Fire Marshal; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; County Police Department; and the State’s Attorney’s Office. Investigators have worked around the clock since the incident occurred to determine the cause and origin of the fire.

The investigative team has determined the fire that occurred at 6404 57th Avenue in Riverdale is the result of arson, the area of origin is the basement. The house next door, 6402 57th Avenue, where a previously unreported fire occurred on an earlier date, is also being investigated as arson. Investigators reached this conclusion based on evidence collected at the scene of both fires. Because this is an open and on-going criminal investigation, evidence cannot and will not be discussed.

Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor stated, “We will leave no stone unturned. Every resource available to us will be used to find the person(s) responsible for setting this fire. Once the responsible person(s) have been identified, we will work with the State’s Attorney to ensure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

States Attorney Angela Alsobrooks spoke and stated, "I am impressed with the case that investigators have put together and agree with the Fire Chief in that we will prosecute the responsible person to the fullest extent of the Law."

In addition to criminal charges related to arson, there could be criminal charges stemming from the injuries to the firefighters.

We are asking for the community‘s involvement and assistance in helping to identify the person(s) responsible for setting these fires. If you have information about either of these incidents, call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). You may also send your tips, SECURELY and ANONYMOUSLY, via TEXT MESSAGE by typing "PGPD" plus your message, and sending it from your cell phone to "CRIMES" (274637). If your information leads the capture of any of these fugitives, you may be eligible for a CASH REWARD up to $1,000.

The Prince George’s County Arson Tip Line will also accept information at 301-77-ARSON, or email 77ARSON@co.pg.md.us.

Deputy Fire Chief Scott Hoglander responds to a reporters question about the 57th Avenue Fire which was declared Arson. (Brady)

States Attorney Angela Alsobrooks address media. (BRADY)

Early Morning Fire Damages Cheverly Building

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930, mebrady@co.pg.md.us

Prince George's County Firefighters battled a blaze at a 2-story structure in Cheverly this morning.  At around 3:45 am firefighters were dispatched to investigate an automatic fire alarm called in to Public Safety Communications by an alarm monitoring company.  Additional calls from the community reported smoke in the area and dispatchers upgraded the assignment to a full building fire assignment.     Firefighters arrived at 5802 Arbor Street to find a 2-story commercial structure that was being used as a church with heavy smoke showing.  The fire was extinguished in about 20 minutes by 30 firefighters on the scene.

Fire Investigators are currently searching for the cause of the fire and have this incident "under investigation."  Fire loss is estimated at $250,000.  No injuries were reported.

Fire can be seen at the roofline of the 2-story building occupied by a church.  PGFD PHOTO

Firefighters remove safety bars from the ground floor windows of the structure.  PGFD PHOTO