Wednesday, March 12, 2014 5:02 AM
Published on: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
By Jim Davis
Laurel Mayor Craig Moe announced last Thursday that the city will pay $10,000 for information regarding a string of fires at local businesses and parks earlier this year.
Prince George’s County fire investigators and Laurel police are investigating if several suspicious fires at Laurel businesses may be linked to a rash of playground fires from January to March.
“We must stop this evil,” Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor said. “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. According to Pete Piringer, spokesman for the city, the fire at Emancipation Community Park caused $80,000 to $100,000 in damage and the fire at Discovery Community Park caused $100,000 in damage.
At least seven fires in Laurel are under investigation, said Bashoor. The fires have similarities to two of the playground fires — one on March 3 at Discovery Community Park and one on March 11 at Emancipation Community Park playground.
Fire investigators are also looking into the fires at Bottom Dollar Store on Laurel-Bowie Road, Jan 10; Laurel Fuel Oil and Heating Company on Main Street, March 6; and Empire Buffet restaurant on Laurel Place, March 23.
Emancipation Community Park should be reopening by May or June, and the Discovery Community Park should be reopening by late summer, Piringer said.
Anyone with information regarding the fires should call the police at 301-498-7645 or the county’s arson tip line at 301-77-ARSON.