Man charged with arson of mother's apartment

January 15, 1995|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,Sun Staff Writer

A Prince George's County man upset with his mother and grandmother set fire to their Temple Hills apartment with them -- and several police officers -- in it yesterday, the county fire department reported.

The two women were not injured, but the blaze caused about $600,000 in damage to the apartment building and left 27 people looking for places to live, fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said.

Fire investigators said the fire began about 10 a.m. during an argument involving the man and his mother and grandmother in their third-floor apartment at the Gateway Square Apartments in the 4800 block of St. Barnabas Road. Mr. Piringer said he did not know the cause of the argument.

During the argument, the man spread a flammable liquid on the floor of a back bedroom and threatened to set the apartment on fire, Mr. Piringer said. The man then locked himself in a bedroom and, with several police officers who had responded to the domestic disturbance call unable to intervene, started the fire, the spokesman said.

Police captured the man as he tried to flee the apartment through the third-floor window, Mr. Piringer said.

The fire left 12 apartments in the three-story, 36-unit building uninhabitable, and the 10 homeless families were to stay in a local hotel last night, Mr. Piringer said.

Michael Cherry, 30, was charged with first-degree arson, Mr. Piringer said. Mr. Cherry was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail at the Upper Marlboro Detention Center, Mr. Piringer said.

The 85 firefighters called to the scene extinguished the fire in 40 minutes. The only reported injuries were to two firefighters who suffered minor burns and were treated and released.

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