- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2003

D.C. fire officials are investigating a series of blazes that have occurred at an eight-story apartment building in Southwest over the last two weeks.

Investigators said the four fires at the Capitol Park Plaza at 201 I St. SW were intentionally set. The blazes occurred between Sept. 29 and Oct. 11 at different locations in the building.

• A couch was set ablaze in the basement of the building Sept. 29

• A fire was set in a third-floor utility closet Oct. 2

• A trash can near an elevator shaft on the 7th floor was set ablaze Oct. 7

• A fire was set in a rooftop storage room Saturday

No one was injured in the fires.

Alan Etter, spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, said another fire broke out on the fourth floor at 11:30 a.m. yesterday. But he said that blaze occurred when construction workers, renovating the 640-unit complex, tried to repair a gas stove. Mr. Etter said residents of the complex were not evacuated.

Fire investigators said yesterday they believe the four previous fires at Capitol Park are not connected to the 30 suspicious fires considered “similar in nature” that have occurred in the District and Prince George’s County since March. Ten fires, six in the Prince George’s County and four in the District, have been conclusively linked to a serial arsonist. Most of those fires were set on front porches of homes.

Investigators also don’t believe that the Capitol Park blazes are linked to three blazes that were set earlier this summer at the Marine View Towers, an eight-story apartment building in the 1100 block of Sixth Street SW.

Police charged Paul M. DuBois, 57, a building resident, with one count of arson stemming from a July 23 fire that was set outside his fourth-floor apartment. He is in jail awaiting trial.

The Capitol Park Plaza apartments are operated by American Rental Management Company. Spokesman Craig Renner said yesterday the company was checking the building’s alarm system to make sure it is working properly.

“We’re working cooperatively with the fire marshal and investigators,” Mr. Renner said.

After yesterday’s fire, security at the gated complex was tight. Managers declined to talk about the series of fires at their complex and did not allow reporters to interview residents.

A few residents who left the complex through locked gates yesterday said they weren’t too worried about their safety or the fires.

“Basically, it’s a pain,” said one resident, who declined to give his name as he left for work.

Another resident said he felt more secure knowing the building’s alarm system works and he will be evacuated if a fire occurs. “I slept the whole night,” he said.

Meanwhile, firefighters in Northwest responded to a fire that evacuated and shut down the nine-story Historic Row Luxury Apartments, the International Spy Museum and an adjacent restaurant at 9th and F streets NW.

The cause of that fire is still under investigation, Mr. Etter said. No damage or injuries were reported.

Anyone with information on any of the arson cases are asked to call 866/91-ARSON.


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