Prince George's County Public Schools are "saddened and disappointed" by what appears to be an intentional fire at one of its student-built homes in Clinton, MD, spokesman Briant Coleman said.
Two fires occurred in the same neighborhood within a week and have been ruled "suspicious" by the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department.
One of the homes was no longer owned by the school system. "We sold it," said Coleman. As for the other home, he said, the work will go on.
"Our students have been working extremely hard on this project, and we will continue to work closely with the Foundation for Applied Construction Technology for Students (FACTS) Board of Directors to ensure the project moves forward in spite of this devastating setback," Coleman said.
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.
The first fire occurred on New Year's Day in a vacant home that was bank-owned and no injuries were reported, according to PGFD. That blaze was still under investigation when Monday's fire ignited, 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 FACTS, according to the fire department. Student Drive derives its name from its student-built homes, according to PGFD.
Each year the students build a house and the homes are located throughout Prince George’s County, according to Coleman. Proceeds from home sales are used as seed monies for the next year’s construction project, he added.
In addition to making sure the project moves forward, Coleman said, "We will also work closely with Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department officials as they conduct their investigation of the incident.”
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."