A woman who was fired from her job at a restaurant in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, set fire to the business early Thursday morning, causing damage to several businesses, fire officials say.
The fire started at Al's Country Kitchen about 1:30 a.m. in the 14700 block of Main Street in downtown Upper Marlboro, the Prince George's County Fire Department said.
Fire investigators say 26-year-old Jessica Marie Poole, of Harwood, Maryland, was later arrested and charged with arson and reckless endangerment. Poole had recently been fired from the restaurant, the fire department said.
"Awful. Just beyond belief," a regular customer of the deli, Keith Smith, told News4 on Friday.
Smith said he's had Poole as his server.
"You wouldn’t see it in her. I didn’t know she was capable," he said.
Across the street from the Al's, workers at CZig's Barbeque said they also knew Poole.
"She used to come over here and eat lunch all the time. But I always thought she was a nice girl, real nice girl. Pretty surprised that she did something like that, but you never know," Charlie Hyatt said.
About 100 fire and rescue workers responded to the fire that quickly spread to nearby businesses. The blaze caused about $250,000 in damages, fire officials say.
Video from the scene shows flames shooting out of the roof of the building.
Fire officials say there were three apartments on the third floor of the building. Two of the apartments were occupied, but fire officials say all three adults inside the apartments were able to get out safely.
One firefighter was treated at the scene for heat exhaustion. No injuries were reported.
“I commend the firefighters that battled this difficult fire and to our fire investigators and law enforcement officers for determining the cause, identifying a suspect and ensuring the suspect was arrested,” said Prince George's County Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale. “I would also like to acknowledge our County Police Department for making the arrest and to the Anne Arundel County Fire and Police Departments for assisting in this investigation.”