NORTH EAST, Md. — Melted tanks and equipment are evidence of the intense heat as flames forced four firefighters from the mobile home in North East just after midnight on February 10th.
“Those four firefighters were, thankfully, actually able to exit out of a window,” Sr. Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire told us that morning. “All four of them. They yelled for a mayday.”
While the dwelling turned out to be vacant, firefighters were not alone in their concern that someone may have been trapped inside.
“Our neighbor down the street---she thought maybe her daughter was in there,” said Gary Williamson, who lives nearby. “So she came through and was like, ‘Maybe my daughter was in there’, and we were like, ‘Oh, no’, but then we found out it wasn’t her.”
According to charging documents, the woman in question who had permission to stay at the house had encountered an ex-boyfriend, 32-year-old Dwight Holmes, earlier in the week, and he threatened to burn down the place when she refused to get back together with him.
On the night of the fire, investigators believe Holmes thought she was still inside and later sent a message to a friend telling them to “grab the marsh mellows”.
It was later determined that a woman living with Holmes, 38-year-old Jessica Shires, also set the fires, telling investigators that if they sought justice for the injured firefighters “they should arrest me”.
Both Holmes and Shires face a series of arson-related charges including attempted first degree murder.