In an exclusive interview, the Hagerstown fire marshal said they've determined the fire set at 226 East Franklin Street on Sunday, February 23, was set on purpose.
The family living at the residence luckily was not home at the time of the fire, but their dogs were, and Douglas DeHaven said, whoever set this fire, knew that.
"This was very maliciously intentional towards this family, and it was done with full knowledge of the dogs being in there. As a matter of fact, we suspect the person or persons who was involved in this had some interaction with those dogs. They clearly knew that those dogs were in that house but still, not even setting them free, set that fire with them being inside," said DeHaven, Hagerstown fire marshal.
Initially, neighbors reported they heard an explosion. DeHaven said it was actually the rapid build up of fire from all of the ignitable liquids used to set the fire.
"From the amount of ignitable liquid that was used in this house when it was ignited, it ignited and went through this house very, very rapidly," DeHaven said.
He said it's a very upsetting case to investigate because not only were people targeted, but two dogs were killed, and now the structure is condemned, which is a burden and eyesore for the entire downtown community.
The Hagerstown fire marshal also said this fire could've been much worse due to the amount of ignitable liquids found inside the home. He says they're lucky they contained it to just the one house.
"This was malicious, it was intentional. It hurts. It hurts that family, it hurts us, and that someone could stoop so low, to do what they did there, and again, we're lucky, that neighborhood's real lucky we kept it to that one house," he said.
They're continuing the investigation along with the Hagerstown Police Department's assistance.
DeHaven said they have a number of leads in this case, and are now asking for help from the community. He said if anyone has information, especially any pictures or cell phone video from when the fire first happened, to please contact the Fire marshal's office. Also, if anyone witnesses any suspicious activity in that neighborhood, you're asked to call or email as well.
DeHaven said anyone who wishes to remain anonymous can. The Hagerstown fire marshal can be reached by phone at 301-790-2476 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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