Teens suspected of starting fire south of BWI Airport No injuries reported in 10-acre blaze

August 07, 1998|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

Fire officials believe two teen-agers set a fire that swept across 10 acres south of Baltimore-Washington International Airport yesterday afternoon, consuming a vacant house, tool shed and barn.

No one was injured in the three-alarm blaze in the 1400 block of Dorsey Road, but the flames quickly spread through brush and woods, dry from lack of rainfall, said Lt. Tim Mikules, a spokesman for Arundel County EMS/Fire/Rescue.

Charges are pending, said Mikules, who added that the cause and motive were under investigation.

He declined to say what led officials to suspect the teen-agers.

The property owners, Bethesda-based Opus East, which also has offices in the 1400 block of Dorsey Road, could not be reached for comment.

Fire chiefs called out 12 engines from Anne Arundel and Howard counties in addition to brush trucks and tankers after an employee of the National Security Agency spotted the fire at 1: 15 p.m. from an office on Dorsey Road and called 911.

Once on the scene, crews needed several minutes to find a road leading to the flames. The vacant house sits several hundred yards north of Dorsey Road and is more accessible from a dirt path off Ridge Road. Crews had to lay 6,000 feet of hose across the hilly fields to reach the fire.

"When it gets into the pine trees," said Anne Arundel fire Chief Reinhold Strobel, pointing to the still smoldering woods behind the burned house, "that's the worst, because the lower branches of the trees are so dry and light up like matches."

Fire officials said that they believe the westerly wind blew the fire into the woods but that it was too soon to speculate whether the fire was started in one of the structures or in the field.

When Firefighter Pam Ruszin from Engine 21 on Dorsey Road arrived at the scene, the house was burning.

"The grass was burning, the shed was lit," Ruszin said. "The two buildings were on fire. Our main concern was saving what was left and stopping it from spreading on the ground."

The property is surrounded by two vacant houses 50 yards up a sloping hill and a large distribution center on Dorsey Road.

Fire crews spread out amid the trees, hosing flames and raking coals late into the afternoon. The vacant house was apparently filled with nearly a dozen bales of smoldering hay that took several hours to extinguish, Mikules said.

No animals were in the barn.

Pub Date: 8/07/98

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