A massive fire that consumed a vacant home and killed two people early Thursday morning was ruled an arson by Prince George's County fire officials.
Police also identified the two people found dead inside the home. Their bodies were so badly burned that investigators had to determine their gender by autopsy.
Police revealed Tuesday that two men died in the fire from smoke inhalation.
Firefighters were called to the 6200 block of Foote Street in Seat Pleasant, Maryland, about 5:30 a.m. When they arrived, heavy fire was coming from the first and second floors of the home.
"It was getting hotter by the second," said Demarco Boone, who woke up to find the house next door burning from top to bottom. His siding was damaged while the house burned.
Prince George's County fire spokesman Mark Brady said the victim's bodies were discovered after the fire was extinguished. They were so badly burned their gender had to be identified by autopsy.
City officials said the police department has been called to the vacant home several times in the past. The house was one of almost 150 foreclosed and abandoned homes in Seat Pleasant. According to tax records, Bank of America owns the house, which was supposed to be empty.
Michael Nesbitt-Gaines, who lives across the street, says he called 911 to report suspicious activity just one day before the deadly fire.
"There were some guys and they had a car and they were moving a refrigerator out of the home. So I knew that was a little suspect," Nesbitt-Gaines said.
"They've boarded this house up several times trying to keep them out," neighbor Mozella Simpkins said.
"There are a number of houses around here that are vacant and homeless people sleep in," Boone said.
The city of Seat Pleasant has started buying foreclosed homes and rehabbing them.
"It's going to take some time, but we are addressing the issue," said Sharron Lipford of Seat Pleasant community outreach.
Police will release the identities of the victims after their families have been notified. They are also working to determine who set the fire.