Baltimore County fire officials say it could be days before they determine the cause of a fire that ripped through an apartment complex near completion in Catonsville.
"Right now, it's labeled suspicious," county Battalion Chief Ralph Nelson said of the fire, which caused damage estimated at $2.5 million to the $5.4 million Park Caton Apartments for the elderly. "Suspicious means there's a possibility that it was maliciously set," the chief said.
Firefighters were called to the complex 101-unit, 80,000-square-foot complex in the 300 block of Maiden Choice Lane shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday.
More than 200 firefighters battled the three-alarm blaze. Their efforts were hampered by a lack of water. Nearby hydrants and the sprinkler system hadn't been activated yet. Instead, firefighters relayed water in tanker trucks and used a hydrant on Maiden Choice Lane. The fire was declared under control after 9 p.m.
Roofs and floors collapsed in the complex, which had been scheduled to begin accepting low-income elderly residents in May.
Nelson said it was fortunate that no one was killed or injured"There's no doubt about it," he said.
The effort to pinpoint the cause will be impeded by the extent of damage to the complex and the amount of debris left behind, Nelson said.
The owner, Shelter Development, said it will rebuild the complex, but that will take time.