- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Prince George’s County fire officials said yesterday that two Marine Corps cars recently were set on fire, which makes at least 10 vehicles set ablaze near military recruiting stations during the past 15 days.

A 2001 Chevy Cavalier and a 2004 Dodge Stratus were set on fire Nov. 23 outside a recruiting office in the 8700 block of Central Avenue in Seat Pleasant, the official said. The incident is being investigated as an arson.

The 10 vehicles, eight of which are owned by the federal government, were set on fire during four separate incidents.

Fire officials in Fairfax County said four cars near recruiting stations in the Mount Vernon area were set on fire Nov. 29, but only two of the cars were government-owned. They also said another car was set on fire Friday at about 3 a.m. in Chantilly.

Montgomery County officials said three cars were burned outside a Silver Spring recruiting station Monday at about 2:30 a.m.

The Washington Post reported the cases yesterday.

Nobody has been hurt in the fires, which have been set between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Mark Brady, a Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department spokesman, said investigators discovered the Seat Pleasant fire while re-examining recent unsolved arsons involving vehicles.

The case predates what was thought to be the first fire in the string.

“Our fire investigators have been in touch with Montgomery and Fairfax counties and federal authorities about the investigation,” Mr. Brady said.

The fires have not been linked conclusively, but investigators from Prince George’s, Montgomery and Fairfax counties, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are expected to meet today to compare notes.

Mr. Brady would not say how the cars were set on fire because the arson investigation is ongoing. He also said investigators have no leads about which they are permitted to talk.

A Marine Corps spokesman said officials are instituting special precautions to protect personnel from more vehicle fires.

“In all things, we want our Marines to be protected, and we are doing what we can to make sure that’s the case,” said Capt. Kevin Hyde.

“They already take good precautions in protecting their vehicles, but obviously if people are bound and determined to do it they are going to do it. We are exploring new ways to keep this from happening,” he said.

A D.C. fire department spokesman said officials are reviewing past unsolved vehicle fires to see whether they show similarities to the string of cases in the other jurisdictions.

Anyone with information about the fires is asked to call 240/777-2263.

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