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Suspicious fire claims two lives in New Carrollton

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Photo by Jim Davis. Prince George’s County firefighters extinguish a suspicious fire at a New Carrollton apartment building. Two died in the incident.

Photo by Jim Davis. Prince George’s County firefighters extinguish a suspicious fire at a New Carrollton apartment building. Two died in the incident.

Published on: Friday, January 18, 2013

By Jim Davis

A New Carrollton man has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one charge of first-degree arson after a fast moving fire took two lives Sunday night when a fire erupted at a New Carrollton apartment complex.

Prince George’s County police and fire investigators arrested the suspect as firefighters were still on the scene at the Fountain Club Apartments, in the 7600 block of Fontainebleau Drive just off of Riverdale Road.

The suspect — Anthony Andre Allain, 44,  — was seen by residents of the apartment complex climbing down the four-story, garden-style apartment building and running into the basement of a nearby apartment building.

Fire investigators and Prince George’s County Police Department officials located Allain and questioned him about the fire. Soon after, they placed him under arrest. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment of burns to his upper body.

According to Capt. George Nichols of PGPD Homicide Unit, the apartment served as a therapeutic group home for the mentally ill. There were three residents in the home — two men and one woman.

Police officers believe Allain started the fire and may have placed something behind the door to prevent anyone from getting in or out, and then he left, said Nichols.

When Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department units arrived on the scene around 7:45 p.m., firefighters encountered flames on the top floor and residents trapped on their balconies and calling for help.

Due to the possibility of the fire extending to adjacent buildings and  a number of rescues that needed to be made, a special alarm requested additional units, Fire Chief Marc Bashoor said.

As firefighters aggressively attacked the blaze, Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department members used ground ladders to rescue a woman from her third-floor balcony.

Prior to Fire Department units arriving on the scene, a woman jumped from a top-floor balcony and landed about 40 feet below. She suffered massive upper body trauma. The woman was transported to a trauma center and pronounced dead soon after.

As firefighters were conducting a search of the apartment on fire, they located a man suffering from burns to his body. He was pronounced dead on the scene, said Mark Brady, PGFD spokesman.

It took about 50 firefighters to bring the fire under control within 20 minutes of arriving on the scene.

“We had no other injuries reported,” Brady said.

The fire displaced 39 adults and 19 children. Prince George’s County Citizen Services Unit and the Red Cross will assist any residents who need temporary housing.

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