Marshals Investigate Suspicious Fire

Police beat

March 20, 1991

The state Fire Marshal's office is investigating a suspicious fire that forced two Columbia residents from their home, county firefighters said.

The fire began at approximately 11:50 p.m. Friday in the 5400 block of Marsh Hawk Way while no one was home, firefighters said.A fire report lists the owner and resident of the home as Edgar A. Cohen Jr.

Damage to the single-family home is estimated at $40,000. Fire damage was mainly in the family room of the home, while smoke and heatdamaged several other rooms.

3 WORKMEN INJURED IN ELECTRICAL MISHAP

Three men were injured -- one critically -- in an electrical accident Friday in Columbia that apparently occurred when one of the men dropped a hammer into a conduit containing live electric wires, countyrescue workers said.

The hammer caused an "electrical arc" to shoot out and surround two of the men while they were working at the General Electric appliance park on Snowden River Parkway, said county rescue services spokesman Michael Gearhart.

The accident occurred at1:25 p.m. while a team of workers was stripping the building of all furnishings and electrical systems. General Electric is moving its operation out of the east Columbia plant.

One of the workers, Michael Wells, 36, who had been staying at the Red Carpet Inn in North Laurel, suffered first-, second-, and third-degree burns, Gearhart said. Wells was listed in critical condition Tuesday in the burn center of Francis Scott Key Medical Center in Baltimore.

Wells' brother, PatWells, 25, who also has been living at the Red Carpet Inn, suffered first- and second-degree burns. Police said they did not know the permanent addresses of the Wells brothers.

Another worker, Terry Dunn, 27, of Town & Country Apartments in Ellicott City, suffered minor burns to his hands while trying to pull burning clothing off the victims, a fire report said.

Both Pat Wells and Dunn were treated and released from Howard County General Hospital.

Gearhart said the menapparently had been attempting to remove a large electrical conduit when a hammer fell into the wiring, causing the electric bolt to strike them. The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified of the accident and is investigating the incident.

MOTORCYCLIST INJURED SERIOUSLY IN COLLISION

A Columbia man remainedin serious condition yesterday with head and back injuries he suffered Sunday when he was thrown several feet from his motorcycle after colliding with another car, county police said.

David Knight, 54, of the 5800 block of Alderleaf Place, was listed in serious but stablecondition Tuesday at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center at University Hospital in Baltimore. The accident occurred at 2:40 p.m. on Route 32in West Friendship.

Police said Knight was heading north on Route32 when he failed to slow down for a car attempting to make a left-hand turn into a driveway. The motorcycle crashed into the back of thecar, sending Knight onto and over the top of the vehicle, police said.

Knight was flown by state police helicopter to shock trauma. The driver of the car, who police did not identify, was not injured.

The accident that occurred south of Route 144 is still under investigation by police. Police have issued no citations.

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