Boy Blamed for Maryland Apartment Fire

The boy who was playing with matches set a bed on fire.


GREENBELT, Md. --

Fire Investigators said that an 8-year-old boy playing with matches is to blame for igniting an apartment fire that displaced 19 people in Greenbelt.

The fire at the Springhill Lake apartment complex forced dozens of people out of their homes on Wednesday night. Investigators said the boy was playing with matches and accidentally set a bed on fire.

The people who live in the apartments said they're tired of hearing smoke alarms. They said they've dealt with several fires some arson, some accidental.

Wednesday night's fire was the second time in a day that firefighters had been to the complex.

The damage was estimated at about $100,000.

Jackie Layne said she's lost her home in the complex twice.

"This is the second time I've been burned out," she said. "I've been here for 14 years, and this is the second one I've been burned out on."

Last month, days before Christmas, crews fought another fire in the complex. Seven units were destroyed, 21 damaged and 60 people were forced out of their homes.

In July, seven different fires that were ruled arson made firefighters virtual permanent fixtures at Springhill.

After tens of thousands of dollars in damage, a suspect was arrested.

This time, firefighters said the person responsible is a child playing with matches.

"When firefighters arrived, they found a three-story, garden-style apartment building with heavy fire on the first floor going up to the second floor," said Mark Brady of the Prince George's County Fire Department.

As crews cleaned up, many people in the complex said they were moving out.

"I think it's awful," Layne said. "I'm going to move. I'm going to get away from around here."

Neighbors said they didn't hear a fire alarm, but were alerted by the screams of other residents.