D.C. firefighters worked to tame a blaze that swept through a home in the Georgetown neighborhood on Monday — then fire investigators saw the man who they believe set it.
Samuel Kalinski of D.C., 26, was charged with arson and accused of using charcoal barbecue briquettes to set the multimillion-dollar home ablaze after vandalizing it. No injuries were reported.
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Investigators saw a suspect on surveillance footage and then saw that same man watching firefighters work, officials said. Kalinski noticed he was spotted and ran, but the investigators were able to catch up with him, officials said.
Firefighters responded to the house in the 3200 block of S Street NW, near Dumbarton Oaks Park, at about 1:10 p.m. and found heavy smoke and flames. Members of the Fire Investigations Unit were called to the two-story house and began to examine it.
“The exterior of the location was noticeably vandalized prior to the fire,” a police report says.
The investigation revealed the fire in the seven-bedroom house worth an estimated $3.2 million was intentionally ignited using “small piles of barbecue charcoal briquettes” spread on the first floor.
Investigators canvassed the area and found that security footage at a nearby business showed a man jumping over the house’s tall, wooden fence and kicking in the rear door, a police report says.
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Officials then saw the man on video standing outside the fire. He ran but fire investigators stopped him. Court documents say an official recognized him based on prior contact.
Homeowner Dale Overmyer said in a brief interview Tuesday that he was thankful no one was hurt.
“We are extremely grateful for the prayers of everyone in the neighborhood during this difficult situation,” he said, declining further comment.
Longtime residents believed the house was once owned by Elizabeth Taylor, who lived down the street while married to Virginia Sen. John Warner.
Neighbors were dismayed.
“It’s just a jewel of a house,” one woman said.
Court documents don’t list a possible motive. The investigation is ongoing. Fire investigators cautioned that “information made available after completion of the report may change the conclusions, and the origin and/or cause reported.”
It wasn’t immediately clear if Kalinski had an attorney. He was set to appear in court Tuesday.
Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.