- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 29, 2003

D.C. fire investigators yesterday arrested a resident of a Southwest apartment complex for purportedly setting a fire in a fourth-floor hallway last week.

Paul DuBois, 57, was taken into custody yesterday morning and charged with one count of arson stemming from a July 23 fire at the Marina View Towers in the 1100 block of Sixth Street SW.

The fire occurred about 3:45 a.m. outside his fourth-floor apartment. Mr. DuBois was injured during the fire, suffering smoke inhalation and second-degree burns to his hands and arms. He was taken to a local hospital and discharged later that day.

Sources close to the investigation said Mr. DuBois smelled strongly of gasoline and told investigators he saw the arsonist fleeing the hallway, but he was unable to provide a description. He said he was burned trying to put out the fire.

Battalion Chief Richard Fleming, the city’s lead arson investigator, would not confirm that account of the incident, but he said there were inconsistencies in Mr. DuBois’ story that raised investigators’ suspicions.

Mr. DuBois’ attorney, Greg Lattimer, said investigators had no evidence his client set the fire.

“It’s just that the District of Columbia needed to respond to this situation,” he said.

Fire department sources said they linked the fire to Mr. DuBois through physical evidence found during a search of his car, including the same ignition liquid used in the apartment fire.

Two other fires were set at the apartment complex June 26 and July 6. The first fire was set on the fifth floor and the second on the fourth floor.

Mr. DuBois has not been charged in those cases.

“We’re not sure if any further charges will be placed,” D.C. Fire Chief Adrian H. Thompson said yesterday when he announced the arrest.

Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Chief Ronald Blackwell said the fires at Marina View Towers bear some similarities to a series of 24 fires in Prince George’s County and the District that have been deemed “similar in nature.”

Chief Blackwell said investigators will examine whether Mr. DuBois could be responsible, but sources close to the investigation said they are nearly certain those fires were set by someone else.

Chief Fleming would not speculate on why Mr. DuBois might have set the fire.

The first fire, a two-alarm blaze that sent two residents and a firefighter to the hospital with minor injuries, was set in the early evening of June 26 on the fifth floor of the eight-story apartment building.

The fire was set in the hallway, using a liquid accelerant that many residents said smelled like gasoline. Days later, investigators detected an ignitable liquid spread in the fourth-floor hallway before a fire was set.

A second fire was set on the fourth floor of the apartment building July 6.

Mr. DuBois was the only one injured in the July 23 fire.

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