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Sharpsburg House Fire: "We Knew Almost Instantly What Happened"

Officials are saying members of the Gillespie family were shocked after they learned the fire that ripped through a house Monday morning was set intentionally.
SHARPSBURG, Md. - An arson investigation continues after the woman who was treated for severe burns is facing charges.

Officials say the woman knew her house would be foreclosed on the morning the fire was set, but she might have been the only one who about knew her family's financial situation.

Officials are saying members of the Gillespie family were shocked after they learned the fire that ripped through a house Monday morning was set intentionally.

"Upon entering the house, before we got inside to really do our scene examination, I was observing some distinctive burn patterns from the exterior, looking in the windows," said Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal, Edward Ernst.

Ernst says Karen Gillespie used ignitable liquids to set the fire, and he says they knew almost instantly what had happened.

"I requested K-9 to assist because we had what appeared to be an ignitable liquid pour pattern in the bedroom,” said Ernst.

Gillespie's being charged with first and second-degree arson, three counts of first-degree malicious burning, and two counts of animal cruelty. Ernst says the States Attorneys’ office will determine if other charges will be filed.

He also reminds everyone that unless you're a trained firefighter, you should wait for professionals to arrive on scene, rather than try to help out.

"Unless they are a firefighter with full turnout gear, and equipment the best thing they can do is call 911 and assist in getting the fire department there. Unless they see somebody outside that they can move away from the house," he said.

Ernst also says they tend to keep an eye on foreclosures and vacant homes, especially for reasons like vandalism.

He says if you live next to a vacant house and see anything suspicious to call authorities.

Gillespie's family is staying with other family members, and the Red Cross is helping them.

Karen Gillespie has been moved from Johns Hopkins Bayview to another facility, she'll be officially arrested as soon as she's released.

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