Officials suspect arson in two townhouse fires

July 16, 1998|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Fires believed to be the result of arson caused $65,000 in damage yesterday morning to townhouses in Columbia and Ellicott City, officials said.

In Long Reach, Columbia, three family members awoke to find their second floor engulfed in flames. Deputy State Fire Marshal W. Faron Taylor said the fire was set deliberately in several places in the townhouse in the 5400 block of Tilted Stone.

Howard County firefighters said they confronted smoke billowing from second-floor windows and controlled the blaze in about 20 minutes. The fire caused about $35,000 in damage, they said.

The fire in Ellicott City started just after midnight in a townhouse under construction, Taylor said.

Flames destroyed one townhouse and severely damaged another in the 3300 block of Sonia Trail. Officials said they were trying to determine where the fire started. It caused about $30,000 in damage.

After the fire, construction workers walked on charred debris near the three remaining units, which are about six weeks from completion, said officials with Wilder Building Corp.

Those townhouses are the first of about 100 expected to be completed in about a year.

"This is going to mess our whole schedule up," said Donald Beichler, 62, a field superintendent.

Pub Date: 7/16/98

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