Suspicious Fires at Four Laurel Businesses Linked to Playground Fires

By Jackie Bensen
|  Thursday, Apr 4, 2013  |  Updated 10:07 PM EDT
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City leaders in Laurel, Md., are asking the public to be vigilant after seven suspicious fires that could be connected. News4's Jackie Bensen reports.

Jackie Bensen

City leaders in Laurel, Md., are asking the public to be vigilant after seven suspicious fires that could be connected. News4's Jackie Bensen reports.

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Suspicious fires at several Laurel businesses seem to be linked to playground fires, authorities said Thursday.

At a press conference, the Prince George's fire chief announced that they have increased the reward for information about the rash of fires to $10,000.

"We must stop this evil," said Prince George's Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor. "Arson is a heinous crime that we take very seriously in Prince George's County. ... I appeal to anyone who knows something about these incidents to come forward."

The rash of fires has caused more than $600,000 in damage.

There are at least 7 incidents under investigation. Investigators have found similarities in the causes of two of the playground fires: One March 3 at Discovery Community Park on Harrison Drive and another March 11 at the Emancipation Community Park playground on Eighth Street.

Another playground fire is under investigation; it happened at Granville Gude Park on March 22. (A small fire earlier that month at Granville Gude is not considered to be connected to the suspicious fires.)

The remaining incidents include several at local businesses: a Jan. 10 fire at a Bottom Dollar Store on Route 197, a March 6 fire at Laurel Fuel Heating and Cooling, a March 20 fire in the 14000 block of Laurel Bowie Road and a March 23 fire at the Empire Buffet restaurant.

Anyone with any information is encouraged to call the Arson Tip Line at 301-77-ARSON (301-772-7766). Callers may remain anonymous.

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