Houses built by students gutted by fire - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Houses built by students gutted by fire

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Arson investigators think someone deliberately set fire to a house under construction in Clinton Monday morning, using an accelerant to get it going.

The blaze gutted the house, under construction by Prince George's County High School students, and sent propane tanks flying through the air like missiles.

A car parked fifty yards away was totaled.

It's the second suspicious fire on the street in less than a week.

On New Year's Day, someone set fire to a vacant house in foreclosure.

It sits adjacent to the home burned Monday morning.

"All the neighbors I've talked to, nobody's been to sleep since this happened because we don't know what's going on," said neighbor Scott Midgett.

Several residents of student drive were standing outside watching the fire when Midgett says the explosions began.

"And it was three booms and it sounded like bombs going off…you could see (the propane tank) fly across the street and hit that car".

A projectile with such momentum it bashed in the back of a Honda Civic, before colliding with the garage.

Brian Thomas owns the home and car.

(It was) "Kind of fortunate the car was where it was because there could have been more damage."

The houses that burned as well as all of the homes on student drive were built by students working under the supervision of a nonprofit foundation known as F-A-C-T-S.

"At the beginning of the school year the (house) foundation is in," said Foundation Chairman Rick Hodgdon, "we get the carpentry students out and they put up the shell of the home and then we have the plumbing students and electrical students come out while the masonry kids are putting the veneer up on the front".

Hodgdon says he is unaware of any trouble within the program that may have led to such a crime.

"We've got such a long track record of success with all our students, they really enjoy coming out here," said Hodgdon.

The damage is so extensive, Hodgdon says, the students will not be able to begin work again until next fall.

Neighbors say they have had to call police in recent weeks after noticing teenagers inside the home that burned on New Year's Day. They also say both homes have been vandalized in recent days.

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