Fires at Clinton Student-Built Homes Ruled 'Suspicious'

Two fires have occurred at homes built by public high school students within a week.


Two fires at homes in Clinton built by Prince George's County public high school students have been ruled suspicious, according to the Prince George's County Fire Department.

The blazes occurred in the same neighborhood within a week.

In the most recent fire on Monday, the house still under construction was consumed by the fire and collapsed into the basement, according to the fire department. Propane cylinders also exploded and became projectiles that traveled nearly 50 yards to a neighbor's yard across the street, the fire department stated.

The first fire occurred in a vacant home on New Year's Day and no injuries were reported, according to the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department (PGFD). That blaze was still under investigation when Monday's fire ignited, according to PGFD. The department asks residents in the Student Drive neighborhood where the fires occurred to be extra vigilant during the evening and overnight. 

Firefighters were dispatched to the most recent fire at 8204 Student Drive at around 1:30 am. Jan. 7 to find the two-story single family home under construction fully involved with fire. Its exposed timber and lumber was burning quickly and intense, according to the fire department. The fire was extinguished quickly without injury and fire loss is estimated at $250,000, PGFD stated.

The propane cylinders on site were for use in the dry wall installation. They damaged a car in the neighbor's driveway and caused cosmetic damage to the garage's brick exterior, according to the fire department.

The Jan. 1 fire was at 8202 Student Drive. When firefighters arrived, flames were consuming the roof and portions of the second floor, according to PGFD.

The high school students building the homes are part of a Prince George's County Public Schools program that operates in conjunction with the Foundation for Applied Construction Technology for Students (FACTS), according to the fire department. The students build one house a year on Student Drive, which derives its name from those building the homes. After construction, the houses are sold.

If anyone has information about these fires, PGFD encourages them to call the Arson Tip Line at 301-77-ARSON (27766). Anonymous tips can be left. People may also email a message to 77Arson@co.pg.md.us.

If residents see any suspicious activity, they should call 911 immediately, according to PGFD. The department asks potential witnesses, "If possible and if it can be done safely, obtain a description of the person(s) that you believe are suspicious. Descriptive information about a vehicle including the tag number is particularly helpful."


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