Former employee is charged with setting restaurant fire

January 27, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

A former employee of the Hunan Taste Restaurant on Liberty Road in Randallstown was arrested yesterday and charged with setting fire to the restaurant, Baltimore County police reported.

Steve Lapsomphop McCullough, 41, of the 2200 block of St. Paul St., Baltimore, was arrested as he drove away from the blaze and was being held at the Garrison precinct lockup in lieu of $50,000 bail on a charge of statutory burning, which applies to setting fire to a business, police said.

The restaurant in the 8500 block of Liberty Road, near Old Court Road, received about $100,000 in damage, most of it to the roof and a vent that leads to the kitchen area, according to Deputy Chief Michael T. Whittaker, a Baltimore County Fire Department spokesman.

Gasoline apparently had been poured into the roof vents of the restaurant, police said.

The damage might have been much worse if Officer William T.Brown hadn't been right across the street when the flames shot up at 5:03 a.m., officials said. The fire was under control in less than 20 minutes.

Officer Brown said he saw a car with its headlights off screech on to Liberty Road from behind the restaurant. He stopped it and arrested a suspect with a gasoline can in the front seat, according to his report.

The suspect, a former employee of the restaurant, told police that he and the owner were involved in a domestic dispute involving the suspect's wife.

Attempts to contact the management of the restaurant were unsuccessful.

The fire, which shot spectacularly through the roof, may have looked worse than it was, Chief Whittaker said.

"It's actually easier for us: We don't have to cut through the roof to release all the superheated gases and toxic smoke. But when the average citizen sees flames through the roof, it has an effect. It looks worse."

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