Tent fires at Elkton homeless encampment ruled arson

Posted at 6:04 PM, Dec 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-02 21:48:38-05

Tucked at the back of Elkton's Marina Park next to Big Elk Creek, just beneath West Pulaski Highway, is a world off-limits to those who are still making ends meet, and it's there that someone set fire to the only place some of the disenfranchised call home.

"It's scary, because you don't know from one day to the next who's the next victim,” said Stacy Dillmore who lives in a nearby homeless encampment. “We don't know what the target is or what it's about."

On Wednesday, firefighters entered the woods at 1 p.m. to put out a fire that had consumed a large tent at one campsite.

Two hours later, they returned to douse another one, and that's when they called in investigators with the State Fire Marshal's Office.

"We determined that both tents were intentionally set on fire," said Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire who adds the challenge now is isolating a suspect or a motive for the fires. "Those individuals remain very close. They're very tightlipped. Not a whole lot of foot traffic comes in or out of there for the common citizen to see. So the only people who would be back in there are those individuals who live back there or somebody was walking back in there and actually targeting that specific group of people."

The fires have taken what little the victims had in life.

"I've got quite a few good friends, but what if you're friends weren't there? You know what I mean? You could always be a possible target," Dillmore said.

There have been a number of overdoses in that wooded encampment recently, and many suspect that the fires were some kind of payback or retaliation for them, but the motive is still under investigation.

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