- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2003

Fire investigators said yesterday they suspect an arsonist is setting homes on fires again after taking a two-month break.

The most recent fire occurred yesterday at 4 a.m. in the 200 block of Quackenbos Street NW. Investigators said the fire, in the Manor Park Community, was similar to 26 others because it was set at the front door in the early-morning hours.

Firefighters went door-to-door yesterday in the community to distribute free smoke detectors and what-to-do pamphlets. Residents were also told how to protect themselves and their property.

“The community of Manor Park is extremely scared right now,” said D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat. “The people who are committing these arsons have no regard for the possibility of human victims.”

It was the second home arson in four days. The other occurred early Thursday in the 5100 block of Barnaby Run Drive in Oxon Hill. Investigators also added to the list yesterday an April 1 fire in the 1500 block of Mystic Avenue in Oxon Hill.

“There is no clear reason why there has been [such] a long time between fires,” said Prince George’s County Fire Chief Ronald Blackwell.

Before Thursday, the last suspicious fire was July 2 in the 300 block of 17th Street SE.

The fires began in March, with 15 in the District and 12 in Prince George’s County.

Investigators have linked six of the 27 fires — one in the District and five in Prince George’s County.

One person has died in the fires. Lou Edna Jones, 86, was killed June 5 at a home in the 2800 block of Evarts Street NE.

A 45-year-old woman survived yesterday’s fire after being awakened by her two cats and the sound of breaking glass. The woman and the cats escaped through the back door.

D.C. fire department spokes-man Alan Etter said yesterday’s fire was added to the list of 27 because a trained dog detected accelerant.

“We continue to struggle with what the motive might be,” D.C. Fire Chief Adrian H. Thompson said.

A $21,000 reward is available for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information should call 301/77-ARSON, write to Arson Task Force, P.O. Box 211, Bladensburg, MD 20710, or e-mail to 77ARSON@co.pg.md.us.

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