Arson investigation continues

A fire investigator prepares to enter a gutted mobile home near North East on Feb. 10, hours after a person or people torched the vacant house. An investigation continued Thursday to identify the person or people responsible for that arson, which resulted in four volunteer firefighters suffering burns while battling the blaze. One of them remained hospitalized on Thursday.

NORTH EAST — An investigation is continuing to identify the person or people who torched a vacant mobile home near North East last week, resulting in four volunteer firefighters suffering burns while battling the blaze, according to the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal.

On Thursday, some eight days after that intentionally-set fire in Lakeside Mobile Home Park, one of those firefighters — a Charlestown Volunteer Fire Company member — remained hospitalized at the Bayview Burn Center in Baltimore, a department spokesman told the Cecil Whig.

“This is still a very active investigation. Investigators have been working non-stop since it happened, over the weekend and through this week,” said Sr. Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver J. Alkire, an agency detective and spokesman.

Anyone with information that might help detectives investigating this intentionally-set blaze, which occurred in the 100 block of Superior Court less than one hour after midnight on Feb. 10, is asked to call the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal arson hotline at 410-386-3050, he reported.

“The person or people doused the front porch with ignitable liquid, which we suspect is gasoline, and also circled the house with it and then ignited it. This is an arson,” Alkire explained on Feb. 11, one day after the incident.

A specially-trained scent dog, K9 Katrina, “alerted multiple times” to the presence of accelerant during an aftermath, fire-scene investigation on the property, Alkire said. Fire detectives also collected “multiple pieces of evidence,” which were sent to the Maryland State Police Crime Lab for analysis,” he added, declining to specify in an effort to preserve the integrity of the ongoing investigation.

Maryland State Police helicopter crews flew two CVFC firefighters from the fire scene to that burn center in Baltimore, after they had suffered burns to their upper bodies, according to Alkire, who further reported that one of them was discharged on Feb. 12, two days after battling the blaze.

An ambulance crew transported a third CVFC firefighter from the scene to that same burn center, Alkire said. That firefighter, who suffered burns to his hands, was discharged from the hospital on Feb. 11, one day after battling the fire.

In addition, an ambulance crew drove a North East Volunteer Fire Company firefighter from the scene to Union Hospital in Elkton, where he was treated for burns to his upper body and then discharged, according to Alkire.

Those four were among approximately 40 firefighters with several area volunteer fire companies that responded when a neighbor called 911 at 12:42 a.m. Feb. 10, after discovering the burning, unoccupied mobile home in the 100 block of Superior Court, fire officials reported.

With smoke and fire showing inside the vacant mobile home, the four volunteer firefighters who suffered burns entered the burning building through the front door to attack the blaze from inside the structure, which is a common practice, according to Alkire.

“The fire flashed within the house and it spread very quickly. They could no longer exit through the door they had used to enter,” Alkire outlined.

The four firefighters escaped through a window, with the assistance of MSP troopers and Cecil County Sheriff’s Office deputies, who pulled them out through that window, Alkire explained.

It took firefighters approximately 30 minutes to control the blaze, which destroyed the vacant, single-wide mobile home that is owned by Lakeside Sales, LLC., Alkire reported.

“It appears that this mobile home has a history of being used by homeless people,” Alkire said last week.

On Wednesday, he expounded on that statement, commenting, “We know that this particular house was used for criminal activity and drug activity. We know of past criminal activity on that property.” Alkire noted that MOSFM detectives received some of that information from MSP and CCSO investigators.

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