Man Suspected of Setting Multiple Fires

Thursday, Jul 7, 2011  |  Updated 8:19 PM EDT
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Suspect arrested in a series of arsons in northeast Washington

Suspect arrested in a series of arsons in northeast Washington

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A man has been arrested and faces arson charges in connection to several fires in northeast Washington, including one that critically injured a D.C. firefighter in April.

Maurice Timothy Dews, 26, of northeast Washington, was arrested early Wednesday morning after a fire was reported Tuesday night in the 800 block of 48th Place NE. Officials said that Dews matched a witness description of the person who started the fire.

Officials said Dews initially tried to flee when they tried to place him under arrest, but was subdued. Officials said Dews later admitted to starting the fire as well as a number of other fires at vacant buildings in D.C. and Maryland.

Police said Dews admitted starting several other fires, including:

  • June 23, 2011: 5000 block of Hayes Street NE
  • June 14, 2011: 4000 block of Grant Street NE
  • April 8, 2011: 800 block of 48th Place NE
  • March 25, 2011: 4900 block of Hayes Street NE

Dews was initially charged for his involved in three fires in D.C., but additional charges are pending.

Officials said Dews has called 911 to report fires at least nine times since 2007, and has been observed as among the first persons at the scene of a fire multiple times. Often he was observed drinking, taking photos and videotaping fires, police said. Officials said that at one fire scene he said he was a volunteer firefighter in Bladensburg, Md., but investigators later determined that was not true.

Firefighter Chuck Ryan was critically injured in the April 8 fire. He suffered burns over 30 percent of his body. Ryan was released from the hospital in late May. He continues to undergo therapy and it is not known when he will be able to return to work.

Three other firefighters from Rescue Squad 3 were also injured in the blaze.

Firefighters said they arrived at the scene thinking someone may have been trapped inside the burning home. The rescue squad entered the house to attempt a search and rescue, then minutes later the roof came crashing down.

Neighbors said the house had been abandoned for at least two years.

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