- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Northeast man has been charged with deliberately setting three fires in the District - including one in April that critically injured a D.C. firefighter and left four others hurt.

Maurice Timothy Dews, 26, of the 700 block of 50th Street, was arrested Wednesday and admitted starting the three fires plus several others in the District and Maryland, according to an affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court.

“This does bring some closure for our firefighters who were injured out in Northeast Washington,” Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Faust said Thursday with the arrest announcement at Engine 2 in Northwest.

Five firefighters were injured in the April 8 blaze, which engulfed a vacant house at 811 48th Place NE. Two of the firefighters remain in rehabilitation with injuries they suffered when the roof of the structure collapsed, fire officials said.

Another firefighter was injured in a separate June 23 blaze.

Investigators declined to speculate on Mr. Dews‘ motive for allegedly setting the fires, but Rich Marianos of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, called Mr. Dews “a serial arsonist” who started fires “for sport.”

Authorities said Mr. Dews had routinely been observed at the scene of fires and in one case even received medical attention for a burn on one hand, according to court documents.

In the three arson cases he is charged with, Mr. Dews placed the 911 calls that alerted authorities to the fires and followed up by calling a fire investigator.

Mr. Dews was questioned by officials after several fires, but denied having a role. During one interview, he told investigators that law enforcement was “going to have to catch me slipping,” charging documents say.

Investigators are continuing their investigation, noting that Mr. Dews called to report at least nine fires in the District and suburban Maryland since 2007.

Mr. Dews was arrested early Wednesday, a few hours after a fire Tuesday was set at a vacant home. A witness to the fire said he saw a man in the alley behind the home shortly before it started and later saw the same man inside the home flicking a lighter.

When investigators encountered Mr. Dews that night, he matched the description provided by the witness, according to charging documents.