Investigators suspect arson in fire at auto repair shop

Another blaze burns out rowhouse

June 30, 2000|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A four-alarm fire that destroyed a Northwest Baltimore car repair shop Wednesday night and early yesterday is being investigated as an arson, fire and police investigators said.

A law enforcement source familiar with the investigation said a young boy told police he saw someone pour liquid inside the building and ignite it.

Police arson detectives have interviewed the boy, the source said, but have not developed a suspect or confirmed how the fire was started.

Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres, a Fire Department spokesman, said only that "investigators believe it was a set fire."

It took 120 firefighters nearly 4 1/2 hours to extinguish the blaze at Husband & Wife Auto Repair, a 150-foot-long, one-story cinder-block building in the 3300 block of Ridgewood Ave.

Flames were fed when the fuel tanks of eight cars stored in the building exploded, engulfing the building in flames about 10:45 p.m.

"Firefighters could not get inside," Torres said. "The fire was just rolling." No injuries were reported, but a T-shirt company next door was damaged.

The owner of the car repair shop, Arthur Copeland, 41, could not be reached for comment yesterday. At the scene Wednesday night, he estimated damage at $200,000 and said it was the second fire there since March.

Another fire early yesterday burned out a vacant rowhouse in the 2200 block of Christian St. and damaged an occupied house next door.

Torres said the two-alarm fire at 3:15 a.m. was caused by drug addicts who accidentally set the dwelling ablaze.

The Southwest Baltimore rowhouse collapsed, and the upper floors of the occupied house were damaged. Damage was estimated at $19,000. No injuries were reported.

The people inside got out safely. City housing inspectors will determine whether repairs can be made.

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