- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 4, 2006

A fire early yesterday morning in a high-rise apartment building forced 75 persons to evacuate, and police suspect a resident’s former boyfriend set the blaze after assaulting her.

Many of those left temporarily homeless were students or staff members at the University of Maryland.

The fire started at about 4:30 a.m. at the 11-story Seven Springs Apartments, about three miles north of the campus.

Firefighters arrived to find a third-floor apartment engulfed in flames.

One firefighter was treated for burns. A 10th-floor resident was hospitalized but his condition was not known.

“This fire appeared to be arson,” said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County fire department.

Police arrested Eric Lamont Partlow, 38, whom they said attacked and sexually assaulted his former girlfriend and set the fire.

The woman was treated at a hospital and released, said Cpl. Diane Richardson, a Prince George’s County Police Department spokeswoman.

Mr. Partlow has been charged with rape and assault and is in jail. He could face arson charges, Mr. Brady said.

The damage is estimated at $300,000.

More than 75 firefighters and emergency medical technicians were called to the building, in the 9300 block of Cherry Hill Road. They were joined by county police officers. Additional ambulances and support personnel were also alerted in the hour it took crews to extinguish the fire.

Most of the residents evacuated were from the third through fifth floors of the building’s wing. With early morning temperatures hovering below freezing, they were quickly taken to a lobby of an undamaged wing of the building, Mr. Brady said.

Mr. Brady said 25 apartments have been declared uninhabitable. Residents in the roughly 120 other apartments on other floors and in two other wings of the building were not evacuated.

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