The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department's Bureau of Fire Investigation helped track and convict a man for setting nine fires in a six-month period.
PRINCE GEORGE'S County, Md. --Between late March and early August of 2007, nine arson fires causing more than $2 million in damages occurred in Spring Hill Lake apartment complex in Greenbelt.
During that period, the efforts of the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department's Bureau of Fire Investigation helped track down and convict the suspect. Twenty-six year-old Jeremiah Jones was sentenced earlier this month to more than eight years in prison.
For the tireless work of its members, the bureau has been honored with a unit citation as part of the 2009 Firehouse Magazine Heroism Awards.
At first, department spokesman Mark Brady said investigators thought the first few fires -- which started in the basement -- were caused by electrical issues until they continued to occur.
Brady said Spring Hill Lake is one of the largest garden style apartment complexes on the east coast, which made it difficult pinpoint the cause of the fires.
"Through their investigations, they uncovered that it was the work of a serial arsonist," he said.
Once it was determined the fires were intentionally set, investigators assembled a team that included state and federal agencies which consisted of 62 members including about a dozen fire investigators from Prince George's County. That team quickly tracked down Jones and followed him for a period of time before making an arrest.
There was one larger, D.C.-area serial arsonist in 2004 and the department's Bureau of Fire Investigation received a Heroism Awards unit citation then as well.
"(The awards) really put us on a pedestal as far as arson investigation. We have a very talented group," Brady said. "It sends a message to anyone who may be thinking about committing arson in our area."