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Police and Fire News

Baltimore County Police and Fire News

Official News Blog of Baltimore County police, fire, homeland security and emergency management. Call 911 to report crimes in progress and emergencies.
Keyword: arson

Baltimore County detectives have made an arrest in connection with a house fire on the grounds of Fort Howard.

James William Folk (38) has been charged with second degree arson and second degree burglary. He is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center on $150,000 bail.

On December 20, 2014 at 8:50 p.m., Baltimore County Fire and Police personnel responded to the 9600 block of Gettysburg Avenue 21052 for a report of a dwelling fire. One responding officer reported that he could see the fire from several miles away. When fire personnel arrived on the scene, they found a three story vacant dwelling with heavy fire showing.

The fire department response was then escalated to a second alarm. Approximately 15 pieces of Baltimore County Fire Department equipment were assigned to fight the fire that was brought under control at 2:26 a.m.

Fire investigators determined that the fire was deliberately set. Their investigation led them to indentify Folk as the person responsible.

No injuries were reported during this incident.

Booking photograph of James William Folk

Over 280,000 intentional fires are set each year, resulting in more than 400 deaths. Vehicle arson represents 7% of total fires and 14% of direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Vehicle arson is directly responsible for $180 million in property damage every year. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that an intentional vehicle fire is one of the most common forms of automobile insurance fraud.

Vehicle arson can quickly spread to other property, causing thousands of dollars in damages. This escalation may also put your family or neighbors at risk for injury.

There are precautions that you can take to reduce the likelihood of vehicle arson and its impact. Here are some suggestions from the U.S. Fire Administration and FEMA:

  • Always lock all car doors when you leave the vehicle, and be sure the tailgate is securely closed.
  • Close all windows and remove the key from the ignition. Never leave your vehicle unattended while it is running.
  • Park your car in a well-lit area. Two-thirds of intentionally set vehicle fires occur under the cover of darkness. If you are in a parking lot, look for a space close to a street lamp. If you are in a parking garage, look for a space close to an attendant booth or with a direct line of sight to the street.
  • When parking at home, keep your car in the garage if possible. If you park in the driveway or on the street, make sure there is adequate light. Installing bright exterior lights will not only safeguard your vehicle but also provide added protection for your home. Motion-activated lights are another simple way to deter criminals.
  • Use antitheft devices such as a car alarm or steering wheel lock. This will make it more difficult for a potential arsonist to enter or move your vehicle.
  • Install a vehicle recovery system such as GPS or Lojack. Quick recovery reduces the chance that a stolen vehicle will sustain damage.
  • Abandoned vehicles are a prime target for arsonists. If you see an abandoned car in your neighborhood, report it to the police.
  • If you see a vehicle fire, retreat to a safe distance before calling 911. Do not attempt to return to the vehicle to retrieve other items.
  • Do not open the hood or trunk if you suspect a fire under it, as the additional air may cause the fire to grow suddenly. A fire extinguisher approved for class B or class C fires may be used on a vehicle fire, but only from a safe distance with a clear path of escape.

A Neighborhood Watch group and frequent communication with Police and Fire will send a message to arsonists that they are not welcome in your neighborhood.

Photo of John Wesley Mosley Jr., arrested in an arson in Essex.Police have charged John Wesley Mosley Jr., 65, of the 700 block of Essex Avenue, with burning his neighbor's house yesterday.

Mosley is charged with attempted first degree murder, first-degree arson and first-degree assault. He is held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center.

BCoFD and BCoPD responded yesterday at 9:02 a.m. to a fire at the home of Mosley's next-door neighbor. The neighbor, who was rescued by a police officer and another neighbor, was injured in the one-alarm fire and transported to a local hospital but is expected to survive.

The investigation, which is ongoing, shows that Mosley became involved in an argument with the victim yesterday morning, just before the fire. The victim told investigators she was calling police when she heard a loud noise and saw fire and shattering windows. The victim and other witnesses told police that Mosley's behavior has been strange lately; for example, neighbors said they have seen him yelling outside his house.

Because of the victim's description of the fire, police investigated the possibility that an incendiary device was involved. A search warrant executed yesterday at Mosley's home found no hazardous materials on the property. Based on a positive reaction from an accelerant-sniffing dog, investigators believe that an accelerant was used to start the fire.

Police have sent Mosley for emergency evaluations twice in the past, in 1995 and 1996.

The investigation of yesterday's fire shows that Mosley and the victim have been neighbors for many years, with no history of trouble. Police responded to Essex Avenue twice in the last month to investigate a suspicious condition. In both cases, the reports to police involved complaints from neighbors about Mosley's behavior, and in both cases Mosley refused to talk to police.

BCoPD's Mobile Crisis Unit -- which responds when someone appears to be in crisis or suffering from a mental illness -- responded to Mosley's home on February 2. Mobile Crisis officers provided advice to Mosley's neighbors (the victim and her friend, who was not at home at the time of Tuesday's fire) and attempted to speak with Mosley.

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