FINKSBURG — State police and the State Fire Marshal's Office are searching for the driver of a van seen in the area in connection with three arson fires early Monday.
Deputy State Fire Marshal Bob Thomas said his office is offering up to a $5,000 reward for information leading to thearrest or indictment of those responsible for the fires at a vacant warehouse and two houses under construction.
State police also are investigating a collision between a 1980 Chevrolet Impala and a Winfield Volunteer Fire Co. firetruck on its wayto the house fires.
Thomas said the four-alarm warehouse fire at 2601 Emory Road was reported at 1:44 a.m.
The fourth alarm was sounded at 2:41 a.m.
It took 75 firefighters from 10 area fire companies 3 1/2 hours to bring the blaze in the wood-frame and metal building under control.
Reese Volunteer Fire Co., the first unit on the scene, did not return to its station until 9:29 a.m., said officials at the Emergency Operations Center in Westminster.
Thomas said thefire in the 30,000-square-foot building was reported by an employee at Consolidated Freightways, a business near the warehouse in the industrial park.
The owner of the warehouse is Carroll County Terminals Inc. Thomas said the building has been vacant for years.
The fire caused an estimated $75,000 damage, but no injuries, he said.
The first of the house fires was reported at 4:41 a.m. at 2904 Constellation Way, he said.
The home, owned by Atuckumar Patel, was underconstruction, Thomas said. It sustained $50,000 in damage and was destroyed by the blaze.
About 40 firefighters from Gamber, Winfield,Sykesville and Hampstead, and Glyndon and Arcadia in Baltimore County, responded to the fire and found another blaze at a nearby home.
That house, also under construction, sustained about $500 damage, Thomas said.
He said the second fire burned itself out. The first house fire wasbrought under control in about one hour.
"In the case of the houses, both fires appeared to be set using building supplies on the exteriors of the buildings," he said.
"We believe all threemay have been set by the same person," he said, though he declined to give a reason for the theory.
He said police and fire investigators are searching for a van thatwas seen leaving the site of all three fires. He refused to describe the van.
Deputy State Fire Marshals Frank Rauschenberg and Steve Hatchett are continuing an investigation into the fires along with state police in Westminster.
An engine on its way to the house fires collided with a car driven by a Woodbine woman.
State police said Elizabeth Ann Meadows, 49, of the 5900 block ofWoodbine Road, was traveling northbound on Route 91 about 4:45 a.m. with her husband.
Winfield Engine 142 was heading southbound on Route 91 with its emergency lights flashing and sirens blaringwhen it attempted a left turn onto Deer Park Road, striking the Meadows' car, police said.
State police closed the road while the Meadows were cut from their demolished car.
Meadows and her husband, Lloyd, 53, were flown by state police helicopter to the Maryland ShockTrauma Unit at University Hospital in Baltimore. Elizabeth Meadows was listed in serious but stable condition late Tuesday. Lloyd Meadowswas listed as fair and stable, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
State police say charges are pending in the crash.
Winfield Fire Chief Timothy Warner, one of four firefighters on the engine at thetime of the crash, said the 1986 vehicle received damage to the front bumper.
None of the firefighters was injured in the crash.