An electrical malfunction caused a two-alarm fire that destroyed a small church in southern Anne Arundel County yesterday afternoon, fireofficials said.
Capt. Gary Sheckells said the church, The House of Prayer Number One, in the 5000 block Sudley Road, Owensville, was engulfed in flames when the first firefighters arrived at 1:30 p.m.
The masonry walls are still standing but the wood-gabled roof andthe church's interior were reduced to ashes, said Sheckells, the fire department spokesman.
Damage was estimated at $75,000. No one was injured.
The wood roof on the 30-by-50-foot church was added when the building was converted from a store, Sheckells said. The fire was trapped between the old and new roofs, "allowing it to travel horizontally throughout the entire building," he said.
On Monday night, parishioners smelled smoke about halfway through the 9:30 p.m. service, but by 10 p.m. the smell had dissipated and churchgoers "didn't worry about it," Sheckells said.
Sheckells said several people living near the church saw heavy smoke in the air about 1 p.m. but couldn't tell where it was coming from because the area is rural. The firewas under control at 2 p.m., a half-hour after the first call to firefighters.
HITCHHIKER TAKES WALLET FROM DRIVER
A Glen Burnie man told police he was robbed Sunday by a hitchhiker he picked up on Mountain Road.
Police said the victim was driving near Freetown Road when he picked the man up about 7:15 p.m.
Once in the car, the hitchhiker demanded money. The victim handed over his wallet with $50 in it. The hitchhiker got out of the car at the intersection of Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard and Mountain Road.
Police described the robber as a black man about 5 feet 10 inches tall with a stocky build. He was wearing blue jeans and a blue shirt.
BOYFRIEND CHARGED IN ATTACK ON WOMAN
A Severna Park man was charged with assault and battery after police said he allegedly beat his girlfriend Sunday.
Ronald Ricardo McMullen, 48, of the 800 block of Nature's Run Road, was arrested after police arrived at his home and found his girlfriend bruisedwith a cut on her nose.
The 40-year-old woman told police she andher boyfriend had been arguing about their relationship, when he pushed her on the bed and pinned her arms down.
She said he allegedlyheld her by the throat with one hand and covered her mouth with the other.
Officers said the woman had a bruise on her right arm.
MAN IN ANNAPOLIS CHASED AND BEATEN
An Annapolis man told police two men chased him through a parking lot outside his home, beat him and threw bottles at him Monday night, city police reported.
Craig S. Overton, 32, was parking his car at about 9:40 outside his home in the 1100 block of Lake Heron Drive in the Wilshir section of the city whena light-colored sedan pulled up behind him and two men jumped out, police said.
The attackers then chased Overton, caught up with him in front of the building and started punching him and hurling bottlesat him, cutting and bruising him, police said.
The victim told police he did not know what prompted the attack.
ANNAPOLIS WOMAN IS ROBBED OF PURSE
A man sneaked up behind a 35-year-old Annapolis woman, threatened her with a knife and snatched her purse on West Street Sunday night, police said.
Elaine Brown, of the 200 block Croll Drive, had been walking near an Erol's Video store when the robber accosted her, then fled on foot with her a purse valued at $295 and containing $305 in cash, police said.
The following break-ins have been reported to county police:
Severn Sailing Association, 311 First St.: Aug. 5. Bank deposit pouch with $659 stolen from desk drawer.
Paul's Lunch, 919 West St.: Aug. 5, entry gained by removing window air conditioner. Cash and merchandise taken. Total loss:$446.
1100 block Route 3: Aug. 2, entry gained through window. Unknown property taken.
3500 block Fort Meade Road: Aug. 1, entry gained through door. Money taken. Total loss: $64.
300 block Telegraph Road: July 29, entry gained through window. Unknown property taken.
400 block Riverside Drive: Aug. 4, entry gained through window. Appliances and a pistol taken. Total loss: $400.
700 block Fernhill Road: Aug. 4. Money, jewelry and a .22-caliber gun taken. Total loss: $2,000.
900 block of S. Weiker Road: Aug. 1, entry gained through door.Lawn equipment taken. Total loss: $549.
8000 block Telegraph Road: Aug. 4, entry gained through door. Lawn equipment taken. Total loss: $400.